One night. $312,500 in financial aid. Building Futures.

So here’s how it goes. I meet someone for the first time and they ask what I do for a living. “I’m a school administrator,” I say.

Often, that is enough. But sometimes, there is the follow up question, “Really, what kind of administration?”

“I’m the Director of Development. I raise money.”

Awkward silence. And then, “Wow, I wouldn’t want your job!”

For me, last Friday’s Building Futures: A Window to the World banquet was a prime example of why I do this challenging and rewarding work. I was humbled as 225 parents, teachers, alumni, former staff, and friends of the school gathered at the Chart House to support our students. And did they ever!  Gifts totaled $162,500 and were matched with $150,000 from an anonymous donor. So far, over $312,500 has been raised!

And the gifts are still coming. I am blown away by the generosity.

The evening started with a cocktail hour with passed wine and hors d’oeuvres accompanied by spicy flamenco guitar from parent Jonathan Fritz.

Jonathan playing guitar

The Pros music ensemble led a samba parade to usher guests to the banquet hall.

The Pros


We learned a bit about the Spanish program and then spoke some Spanish with the help of 7th & 8th grade students. Yup. We believe in hands-on learning. Even at banquets.

8th grade game

student ambassadors

After a tasty meal and conversation, an 8th grade student shared her story of perseverance and triumph.


Mr. Postema shared a story about a boy named DJ who learned what it meant to be known and loved by a community.

Tom Postema

I had the privilege of standing before a wonderful group of supporters. I shared how they could create opportunities by contributing to the important work of Mustard Seed School. At the end of the evening, I was able to thank people as they left. There is nothing quite like being around people who have just experienced the joy of giving. People have a glow when they have done something extraordinary.

jessica with supporters

jessica with supporters2





banquet hall shot

We celebrated the work that we come together to do to support the students of Mustard Seed School.  We celebrated the students themselves.  We stood by their hopes and dreams.

It was a great evening.  But it doesn’t compare to what I get to do every day.  At school every day, I have the privilege of watching masterful teachers work with students from all backgrounds.  To see futures in the making for all students, regardless of their economic status.  Artists. Writers. Mathematicians. Thinkers. Musicians. Engineers. Dreamers.

50% of students wouldn’t be at Mustard Seed without a community of supporters to stand behind them. I see generosity every day.  People making a difference.

The truth about my job?  It’s an honor.

Now, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention that there is still time to contribute to the Building Futures campaign. Want to join me in creating opportunities? Click here or the Donate Now button at the top of this page.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

(And thank you to Roberto Soler for the lovely photos from the event.)

Jessica Smith

JESSICA L. SMITH, Music Teacher Grades 6-8

Dr. Smith teaches music to students in grades 6-8 and coordinates worship for PK-8th grade. She was the Director of Development at Mustard Seed School from 2008-2016.