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August 21, 2018 | Abby Liu
Claudia only attended first and second grades at Mustard Seed School, but those two years were some of the most important in her life. Her experiences at MSS still influence who she is today. As a student, she felt safe, happy, and loved. She caught a vision for what school could be. Filled with art. Music. Joy. Faith. A place that celebrates strengths and supports areas of weakness.
The Landaverde women: (left to right) Claudia, Nissi ’15, Carolina Flores (Claudia’s mom), Mireya ’18, and Grace ’25
Sadly, Claudia’s time at MSS was brief. Her mom was a single mom. Tuition was low but still out of reach. Mustard Seed was in the early days and hadn’t yet built the base of support required for enough need-based financial aid. And so, Claudia left to attend the local public school. Without an arts program and learning support, she withered. Miserable and struggling, she eventually dropped out of high school, though she later enrolled in evening classes and earned her diploma.
If she had children, Claudia told herself, she would send them to Mustard Seed School.
That’s exactly what has happened! Claudia now has two daughters who have graduated from MSS: Nissi ’15, and Mireya, ’18. And her daughter Grace will begin second grade in the fall.
It hasn’t been easy for Claudia and her husband, Ludwing, to pay for a MSS education, but they know that the sacrifices they have made have been worth it. They’re extremely grateful for the generosity of donors and consider them partners in the education of their children. Donors make it possible for Claudia to give her daughters the education that she could not have herself.
“Financial aid changes lives,” says Claudia. “More than that, it changes generations. My two years at Mustard Seed affected me. Now it’s had even more of an impact on my kids’ lives. This education will change how my kids raise their kids. Each gift has a multiplying effect. The blessing keeps going.”
Indeed, Mustard Seed has been everything that Claudia hoped for her children: education with love and joy. A curriculum that addresses the whole child. A school that teaches the same values that she teaches at home. Where the girls are known and celebrated. Prepared for high school and beyond. Equipped for the future.
Claudia’s daughter, Nissi ’15, graduated from MSS three years ago and will soon begin her senior year at High Tech High School, one of the most competitive public high schools in Hudson County. Then she’ll apply to college. Claudia credits MSS teachers with inspiring confidence in Nissi and helping her become more solid in her convictions. She’s thriving in the Drama Academy and hopes to become a fashion designer one day. She’s already talking about giving back and helping those in need.
Mireya’18, one of our recent graduates, was accepted into the Culinary Arts Academy at High Tech High School. Naturally shy, Mireya’s learned to express herself at MSS, to speak up, and thanks to the rigorous exhibition program, to comfortably present in front of large groups.
Grace ’25, will start second grade in the fall. She’s learned to read, write, and spell during first grade. She’s a diligent worker. A wonderful friend. She loves coming to school every day and always arrives with a smile.
Claudia and Ludwing also give back by participating in parent fundraisers like the #MerryMatch. They give out of a sense of deep gratitude for what they’ve been given. They want to bless others, just as the MSS community has blessed them.