Terra Tominelli on Expansion Plans for TerraNichol Academy of the Arts School – Editor’s Note: We spoke with Terra Tominelli, the founder of the TerraNichol Academy of the Arts School in Englewood. The school is located at 701 Old Englewood Road. Visit TerraNichol.com; inquires welcome at 941-474-3000.
Terra, what’s the latest with your expansion plans?
We are in the first phase of the project to expand our school to offer classes through fifth grade instead of first grade. We are developing a 501c3 nonprofit and enhancing our business plan to support our need for grants. Making our vision a reality requires ongoing planning and positive relationships in our community.
What led to your decision and what’s your timetable?
Parents, students, staff, and many local leaders have expressed support for our innovative school since its inception in 2006. The new vision is to expand our student-centered Reggio Emilia School to serve more local families and students. Our goal is to complete the expansion by 2020.
What’s the mission of your school?
We teach the whole child, and that means encouraging individuality, promoting creativity in all areas, fostering teamwork, and helping students to become the best version of themselves with experiential learning. Teaching to a standardized test, reducing creative arts and physical wellness programs, and cutting funding for leadership development shortchanges the potential of young students.
What are your primary needs?
We are seeking grant writers, a local business to clear two lots adjacent to the existing campus, and a Seed Fund based on our business plan that addresses our startup costs.
What are the benchmarks for the school becoming certified in sustainable design, and how will sustainability be part of the curriculum?
The benchmarks include site development, water usage, energy efficiency, material use, and indoor environmental quality. These same areas offer our students learning opportunities such as a Co-op garden and rain barrels for water harvesting. Awareness about holistic design will support student projects and research that could spark future careers.
What’s the idea behind the rescue farm and garden?
The rescue farm and garden will provide our students with active learning projects during their formative years. It’s an opportunity to build awareness of our connection to the fertility of earth and the ecological interplay between humans, weather, water, produce, and animal life.
How do you measure the value of teaching the creative arts and fitness activities?
We learn a great deal from staying in touch with graduating students and their parents. Early exposure to the arts and cultural activities develops our creativity, ability to express ourselves, our sense of identity, and the potential of our imagination. Ongoing fitness activities creates positive habits that can enhance a child’s health and wellness for a lifetime.