From Debra’s Desk

4 NEW Ways YOU Can Afford Private School!

An independent school education may be more affordable than you think.

Thousands of parents do it, and they’re not all millionaires or trust-fund heirs. How do they do it?  Many pay for private schools by the sheer force of persistence and determined budgeting. Even more of them have learned how to use every available tool and resource out there.  

Do you know that there are several NEW ways to afford private school in New Hampshire?


  1. Flexible Tuition Programs

Tuition rates at Southern NH Montessori Academy and the NH School of Applied Learning are determined based upon affordability. Flexible Tuition allows families to apply for reduced tuition that is right for their unique financial situations. It’s a range that spans from 25-100% of the actual cost of education. Thus, this makes education at SNHEC affordable to many qualified students who could not otherwise join our school community. Don’t be shy! A common misconception is that school based tuition assistance is only for a few families. However, many private schools – like Southern NH Montessori Academy and the NH School of Applied Learning – welcome ALL of their families, regardless of income, to apply for tuition assistance.

For more information about our Flexible Tuition programs, visit the Flexible Tuition page or call our office today (603)818.8713. We would love to help you!


  1. Foundation-Based Tuition Assistance

The NH Children’s Scholarship Fund provides scholarships for New Hampshire students who are struggling in their current public school to allow them to attend a private school that is a better fit for them and their learning needs.

Scholarships are awarded to students based on the metrics in the Education Tax Credit law, financial need (income and family size), and funds raised for tuition for a private school (listed here) or for homeschooling expenses. Submitting an application is not a guarantee of an award. Families are notified if they are awarded scholarships.

For more information, visit NH Children’s Scholarship Fund or call (888) 325-1776 and speak to either Kathy Rago, Program Manager or Kate Baker, Executive Director.


  1. Recent tax changes to 529 laws

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has expanded the use of 529 plans in 2018 – accounts that allow savers to accumulate money and pay for college on a tax-free basis – to include elementary and secondary school expenses at public, private or religious institutions.

That means individuals can take up to $10,000 in distributions annually from their 529 plans to pay for private school tuition and books through 12th grade – in addition to using their account proceeds for college costs.

  • Starting in 2018, you can use up to $10,000 in 529 plan proceeds for elementary through high school costs.
  • 529 plan contributions qualify for the $15,000 annual gift tax exclusion.
  • More than 30 states allow income tax deductions for 529 plan contributions.

Of note, there are two (2) other Education Savings Programs that can be used to allocate money for educational expenses, each of them have specific guidelines. for your reference:

Coverdell Education Savings Account and The Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) and the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)

You are encouraged to talk to your tax accountant and a financial advisor regarding your personal situation to help better understand your options that suit your individual situation.


  1. School Choice – Educational Savings Account

Presently, under consideration in the state of NH, Senate Bill 193 is a voucher-like system for families who remove their children from public school and are able to claim upward of $3,500 in state money for an education savings account to spend on private education or home schooling. To date, the proposed bill has gone through many iterations and is under review by the House Finance Committee. More information can be found:



IRS Rules on Gift Tax and Education Exclusion – Resource Hub


In short, there are OPTIONS and they meet VARYING needs…

Let us help YOU find a way to provide the BEST educational option for your child! Wherever that may be…

Welcome to the Classroom of the Future!

Have you heard of Maker Spaces?  Viewed as the classroom of the future, they are the ideal adolescent learning environments.  Complimenting a student’s need to be physically engaged in their learning, these dedicated spaces include access to all kinds of materials and tools – from traditional workshop tools and art supplies to cutting edge technologies like 3D printers, iPads, CAD software, and more.  Students work collaboratively to explore topics and projects together that build connections to real-world applications.

A Maker Space easily embraces all kinds of STEAM activities – as an innovation space; you will find robotics and circuitry alongside quilting, sewing and screen printing… Bunsen burners, beakers and safety goggles can be found as easily as pottery wheels, painting easels, and photography darkrooms.  Try your hand at producing a video or music production; or work together to plan and build a hydroponic garden.  

Learning by doing is the key to any Maker Space – and this is at the core of what we embrace at the NH School of Applied Learning.  Applying thinking skills in a hands-on, active way integrates deep academic and rigorous content that connects school to life in the real world, fosters sharing and collaboration, and gives students a reason to learn.  

A Maker Space like the one we have integrated into our middle school provides the tools, materials and technology that define the classroom of the future – and it’s exciting!  Students use their skills in a variety of ways, taking on different roles within groups and exploring new social relationships with their peers.  Applied Learning actively satisfies the adolescents’ need to move, while lab activities such as industrial arts, home economics, and business entrepreneurship create a bridge to core academic principals and curriculum.

Applied Learning like the kind that happens in a Maker Space allows students to make connections with – and an impact on – their community.  Young people want to make a difference in the world, and the classroom of the future helps them to see how their skills and ideas in the areas of physics, architecture, engineering, culture, history, transportation, ecology, technology, art and business can do just that.

Do Your Homework!

Wait – isn’t homework something that many schools are reducing, or moving away from?  It’s true, the no-homework policy of a second-grade teacher in Texas went viral recently, earning praise from parents across the country who lament the heavy workload often assigned to young students (TIME Magazine, August 2016).   But what if the assignment is choosing the right school for your family?  Is homework the only thing you should consider?

Research Your Options: When considering schools, it makes sense to do your ‘homework’ – but where do you begin?  Understanding the “assignment” and treating it just like a research project is a great approach.

Develop your Objectives: What are the key values or attributes that are important to you in choosing a school; whether it’s Pre-school, Kindergarten, or Elementary?  Do you understand the different teaching philosophies that are unique to each school?  Putting together a list of your values and touring schools with a prepared list of questions is a great place to start.  

Don’t be shy, ASK! Be sure to include several schools in your research; just like in the scientific method, your results are only as good as your data – so be thorough with your observations, and consider multiple sources.  

  • In addition to a personal tour, what do others in the community have to say?  Does their environment match what they portray online and in their brochures?  
  • What is their policy on homework, recess, grading/evaluations, testing, discipline?  
  • Do they actively incorporate social and/or cultural traditions that are important to you?  
  • What level of parent involvement is expected/welcomed?  
  • Is their academic curriculum traditional or more cutting edge/experiential?  How do they approach technology?

Compare and Evaluate: Now that you’ve learned firsthand about the choices you have, you will have a pile of literature – and likely a good amount of “gut feelings.”  Bring together your information and compare it to your objectives.  A good old-fashioned “pros and cons” list is an easy way to quickly identify where each school aligns with your values.  Now that you’ve done your homework, the answer is easy!

There’s a new school in town!

The fact is that now, more than ever, many families are interested in exploring alternative options for their children’s education.

What they find when they explore Southern NH Education Center (SNHEC), home of Southern NH Montessori Academy (SNHMA) and NH School of Applied Learning (NHSAL), is a community dedicated to cultivating the natural brilliance within each student and an equally strong commitment to embracing the diversity of learning styles.

At Southern NH Education Center students learn at their own pace, never constrained nor inhibited by the learning pace of their peers. Students are empowered to select their work assignments each day and are held accountable for completing them. Skills they learn in this environment include: time management, self-direction, prioritization and self-advocacy.

Students at SNHEC learn by doing. By engaging as many of the senses – sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell – the learning experience is enhanced. The mind learns what the body does. When learning is achieved through doing, it is a neurological versus exclusively a cognitive process. This is particularly important as the student matures and evolves from concrete learning to more abstract learning. It gives the learned material something to stick to and a basis for recall in the future.

Southern NH Education Center offers an academically focused education to children ages 3 months to grade 8. Our Children’s House and Elementary programs make up Southern NH Montessori Academy while we support the growth of our Middle School students in the NH School of Applied Learning.

Born of a mother’s love to provide the best possible educational for her son, this passionate dedication permeates SNHEC through not only the administration of the school, but through the instruction by each and every teacher.

SNHEC has a rolling admission and conducts tours daily. Call today and witness for yourself students engaged in their learning, not because they have to, but because they want to.

What is Montessori Anyway?

Demystifying the Montessori Educational Philosophy

Are you one of many that hears the term “Montessori” and nod your head to convey that you are knowledgeable about the educational philosophy, but really do not really know what Montessori is? Well, you are not alone. In fact, sadly, in addition to those that know little or nothing, many have profound misconceptions.

Simply defined, the Montessori educational philosophy can be described as a “kinesthetic,” or a hands-on and experiential learning approach. The premise is that by engaging as many of the senses – sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell – the learning experience is enhanced. This is particularly important as the student matures and evolves from concrete learning to more abstract learning. It gives the learned material something to stick to and a basis for recall in the future.

Children in Montessori educational environments are guided through individualized learning plans, providing each child the opportunity to learn as much as they are capable of across the curriculum and without limitations. Their teaching guides are responsible for monitoring what type of assignments they prefer and those that they avoid as a means to enhance their interests and hone in on any rationale for avoidance.

Montessori educators charter themselves with helping to groom the adults that their students will become. Students are empowered to select their work assignments each day and are held accountable for completing them. Skills they learn in a Montessori environment include, but are not limited to: time management, self-direction, and self-advocacy. In fact, when interviewed by Barbara Walters, Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, attributed that “it was part of that [Montessori] training of not following rules and orders, and being self motivated, questioning what’s going on in the world and doing things a little bit differently” in Montessori education that allowed them to learn to think for themselves and gave them freedom to pursue their own interests.

Montessori schools do not end at Kindergarten. They include elementary, middle, and high school level instruction. Taught in three-year age groups: Infant/Toddler (Birth to 3 years old), Early Childhood (3-6 years old), Lower Elementary (grades 1-3), Upper Elementary (grades 4-6), Middle School (grades 7-9), and High School (grades 10-12), the Montessori classroom provides an environment in which children have peers across each dimension of the student (intellectual, physical, emotional, social and creative).

At Southern NH Education Center, we offers an academically focused education to children ages 3 months to grade 8 through an integrated curriculum. The robust enrichment programs include Spanish, Latin, Creative Arts, Technology and daily Physical Education, all of which compliment the strong academic core. The spacious, modern, and fully equipped classrooms include a library/media room, science/discovery lab, as well as a kitchen/laundry teaching room.

Southern NH Education Center (SNHEC) is the home of Southern NH Montessori Academy (ages 3 months to grade 6) and NH School of Applied Learning (grades 6-8). SNHEC has a rolling admission and conducts tours daily.