The John Potter Scholarship Fund


John Potter founded The New School in 1989 because he was passionate about giving every student the chance to be their best self. To this day, the faculty and staff stand by John’s model for education, and continue to support students as they use their minds well. The New School would not exist without John, and he remains an integral part of The New School community. We believe there is no better way to honor and thank John for the legacy he has created than by directly supporting student access to a New School education. The John Potter Scholarship Fund (JPSF) does just that. The JPSF supports John’s vision by directly supporting students who may not be able to afford the full cost of a New School tuition. Donations to the JPSF help us give more support to students than ever before.

A Donor’s Perspective

As the parent of three children who graduated from The New School of Northern Virginia, I know firsthand that donating to The John Potter Scholarship Fund is a way to make a huge difference—not just in the life of a child but in the life of their family as well. Everyone in a family suffers when a child is uninspired and unhappy, and I am certain that my own family’s cohesiveness would not be what it is today without the positive impact of The New School. School went from a negative stressor in my family’s life to something very positive.

It was wonderful to see the transformation in my children after starting at The New School–how they emerged from the shadows and took pride in their uniqueness. They actually enjoyed school and liked having a say in their education. It was amazing to see their confidence grow. They spoke up in class, took on leadership roles, participated in activities and performances, started clubs, and gave presentations with confidence.

I believe one of the reasons for this was the close mentoring relationships between students and teachers, who were also accessible to us parents. New School classes were intellectually challenging and my kids were more engaged and seemed to retain more than before, probably in part because they were more active participants in their own education. They developed interests in computer science, acting, and social work that would continue after graduation.

I felt so proud of them at family gatherings on the West Coast when I saw them engaging with adults in discussions on diverse topics, knowledgeable and confident their opinions mattered. After my oldest son started college, he told me he felt better prepared than many of his classmates because he was so comfortable giving oral presentations, interacting with the professors, making choices, etc.

I think that being in such a kind and caring community also helped motivate my kids to be kinder and more caring individuals themselves. There is a high level of acceptance of diverse backgrounds and orientations at the school, and my children developed a real sense of community and strong friendships.

Because of my family’s own experience, I think that The John Potter Scholarship Fund is a great cause that helps ensure a well-rounded student body at The New School and accessibility to more kids and their families.

Donna Kraemer
Alumni Parent, Classes of 2009, 2012, and 2019

The Founder’s Gala: Celebrating John Potter

A Chance to Share Gratitude and Support New School Students

Reprinted from the Special Gala Edition of the Newsletter, December 2018

This past Sunday, students, alumni, parents, and friends all gathered to thank John Potter for everything he has done for The New School and its students and kickoff The John Potter Scholarship Fund, a fund that will directly support the students.

When John created The New School, the students he would serve were always at the forefront of his mind. He knew that if students were given freedom, love, and encouragement to speak their minds and shape their own futures, they could
reach limitless potentials. They could be who they wanted to be and take an active and influential role in their own education.

The afternoon was an example of what The New School is all about–being a collaborative, warm community in pursuit of the same goal: to give students the chance to be themselves and follow their passions. Guests from throughout the years shared with John just how much The New School has meant, and still means, to them. Parents of students who graduated in the school’s early days joined with parents of recent graduates to express just how much The New School changed and shaped their children’s lives. Alumni from as early as 1995 and as recent as 2018 joined current students to express the role John and The New School played in helping them discover and explore their passions.

The same messages resonated throughout the afternoon–The New School is unlike any other school. It gives students something they need–a safe place to find their voices with a faculty and administration that give them the freedom and tools to find and follow their passions.

During the afternoon, ten of our alumni and students were showcased as performers. These performers ranged from an alumn from the class of 2000 to a current 8th grader, with performances ranging from classical violin to original poetry, blues guitar to monologues created in The New School class, “My Story, My Self,” and an aria from La Boheme to an arranged rendition of a Drake song. It is always amazing to see how much talent our students possess.

That is the beauty of what John Potter created: a place for individuals from different backgrounds to come together and share what makes them unique, while still finding common ground. Thank you, John, for everything you have done through your passion for education to encourage students as equals to shape their learning in the classroom and share their voices with the world. We are truly grateful.

Noelle Andreano
Director of Development & Community Engagement

A Message from our Master of Ceremonies

Reprinted from the Special Gala Edition of the Newsletter, December 2018

December 16th was The Founder’s Gala, an event celebrating John Potter and his 29 years of service to The New School. John envisioned The New School as a place where students could find their best selves and take charge of their education. The Gala also raised money for the John Potter Scholarship Fund, a fund that will be used to give all students a chance to find their best selves at The New School.

The event was a resounding success. As the Master of Ceremonies, it was an honor for me to take part in such a grand event, and I, on behaIf of the students, want to thank everybody who attended or participated in the event.

Thank you to all of the students, both for their wonderful performances and stories. It was a great pleasure to see you again, and it was fun to meet some of you from a different New School generation.

Thank you to all of the teachers and staff who helped organize and support the Gala, especially Noelle Andreano who coordinated the event. Thank you to The New School students and parents that participated in the Gala, even if they did not attend.

I want to give a final thank-you to all the guests who attended the Gala, everyone who donated, and everyone who participated in the raffle and auction. It couldn’t have happened without all of your combined efforts.

Thank you!

Ethan Ocasio
Class of 2021

Alumni Voices

At The Founder’s Gala, four alumni were invited to speak and share their experiences at The New School, and why it is important to support current and future New School students. Here is what they had to say:

“Joan and John are probably the first educators in my life who treated me like an adult and offered me this chance to raise my level of maturity at a difficult age. And they did that by giving me control of my education and allowing me to take responsibility. It’s a gift to take responsibility and be in the driver’s seat and take
ownership…I’ve been thinking about my career – I work in film and theater – and I think nearly every aspect of that and the creativity, all the roots were planted at The New School.”

Jake Kader
Class of 1995

“[When I got to The New School] I really wanted to cruise, I really wanted to stay that way. It took a long time, but that was undone at The New School…I, like Christie, ended up in education. And actually I counsel kids who go to public school in under resourced neighborhoods on how to apply to private school. The mentality in the D.C. private school area is “Prove to me that you are exceptional.” And The New School is a place to go as you are and become exceptional. Once again, The New School is seeing that there is a need and they are inventing the
solution. These kinds of scholarships do not exist. This money will go to getting those kindred spirits into a place where they can become who they want to be.”

Ellen Selby
Class of 2008

“I actually work in education now, which is not something I would’ve seen coming…But The New School did actually put me on this path. A lot of what I see is schools that are just trying desperately to get kids to learn math and to learn reading. And that is through a lot of rote memorization and through a lot of test prep curriculums…and there is very little autonomy. There’s no inquiry-based education, and there’s very little trust.

There’s a lot of trust in students at The New School. There’s a lot of freedom. There’s a lot of autonomy. You can’t compare these rote memorization, test prep curriculums with what you are getting at The New School, because while one is a test score that could maybe get you into college, when you get to college you’re not going to be able to have the skills that you need. You’re going to be able to memorize things really well, but you’re not going to be set up to be a successful adult that is curious and hungry for knowledge and a lifelong learner. And I think that is what I got from The New School, and that’s how I got into education, so thank you John, and Joan, and everybody.”

Christie Atlee-Chester
Class of 2007

“I am one of those kids that was saved…I didn’t feel like I fit into public school. I was going down the wrong path. My parents took me in for the interview [at The New School] and immediately I was hooked. I loved the idea of being able to own my education, being able to choose the classes I wanted to take. The New School
taught us to do, to live, to learn and love learning. I feel so honored that I was able to do that, to be a part of that. To make so many friends that are like family. I feel like The New School guided me and helped me in each way. I know also that The New School taught me to love people, to care for people. I would not be where I am now, I know, if I did not have the guidance from John and the staff.

We’re here for the children…to help children that can’t really afford or that need assistance to come to the school, to obtain the opportunity that we had. John, you truly wanted to give students a chance to be their best selves, and you did that. And it’s still growing.”

Stephenie Rogers-Scott
Class of 1996

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