How far would you be willing to drive every day to bring your children to school? For Nicole’s family, the answer was several hours. Every day. Their commute could be 45 minutes or an hour and fifteen minutes each way, twice a day. For EIGHT years. That’s how committed her parents were to having Nicole and her brother, Michael, attend Mustard Seed School.
“Although the commute was very long,” says Nicole, “it was worth it. MSS has a strong sense of community, and a focus on serving others. Students learn to respect everyone and to express themselves through art and music. I graduated with a sense of courage, responsibility, and self-respect.”
Now in her final year of high school at Mount St. Dominic Academy in Caldwell, NJ, Nicole looks back on her days at Mustard Seed School with gratitude. She remembers creative teaching, like when Mr. Lawrence brought in a scale and used it to explain how to solve an equation. (Whatever you do to one side of the equation, you also have to do to the other side.) The investment of teachers like Ms. Rupke and Ms. Penfold who knew her well and always expected her best work. And the time when Mr. Lawrence contacted the academic dean at her high school and advocated for Nicole to take Honors Geometry, which influenced the courses she was able to take in subsequent years.
As she looks ahead to college next year, Nicole knows exactly what she wants to do: major in engineering while simultaneously completing her pre-med courses. She’s determined to realize her dream of becoming a doctor. So it comes as no surprise that many of her favorite courses so far have been the sciences. Classes like AP Chemistry and Anatomy and Physiology. She also enjoyed British Literature which included in-depth study of texts and the opportunity to act out Beowulf and Macbeth.
Nicole takes full advantage of the clubs at Mt. St. Dominic. She participates in Book Club, Justice Club, the National Honor Society, Peer Leadership, Ambassador Club, and Dominican Preachers. She’s on the track team and she throws javelin and discus.
Advice for MSS students
Nicole has some advice for Mustard Seed students: “Enjoy the celebrations like Passover, Ascension, and Rosh Hashanah. Take your time with your reading buddy seriously. If you ever have a chance to serve, to help clean up chairs, or to play with younger children at the park, do it. One day you will miss it all.”