The things you need to know
Firstlight Family Policies (tap to open)
Even our policies are fun
Please take a quick 3 and a half minutes to read our 11 awesome policies! This is not that gobbledey-gook that lawyers write. We actually think it is understandable, super important, and even a little bit fun. If you have more questions please call or text.
Summer students should look at 5, 6, 9, 10 & 11
1. The school-year classes at Firstlight are a single 36-week COURSE, and each course requires full tuition for the year – due upon registration, or using an installment payment plan. If you opt for our no-cost monthly payment plan (yes, almost everyone opts for this), please understand that you are not actually paying month to month for classes. You are applying for an installment payment plan to pay for the entire course you have reserved. All payments are due whether you attend the classes or not. You are reserving a seat, and there are very few seats in each class due to our important small class sizes. We have full year terms because we believe art cannot be adequately taught in short courses.
IMPORTANT – There is a yearly registration fee of $35, which is added to your first tuition payment.
The August installment payment is a smaller payment and is required for securing a spot, along with the $30 registration fee if you are using the installment plan.
2. Siblings are eligible for a 10% scholarship discount on school-year classes (not available in the summer).
3. Attendance: It’s your responsibility to attend your classes. No refunds can be made for classes that are missed because that would pretty much make us go bye bye. We have a cool thing though; all students may come into our OPEN STUDIO sessions for free! These take place once each month, most often on the first Saturday of the month. They are there so you can catch up if needed, or just to enjoy working on art projects! Adults are 9 am to 11 am, Ages 4 – 7 (KidsART classes) are in the mornings 11 am to 12:30, and Ages 8 and up are in the afternoons from 1 – 4 pm. Guests are $4.
Please read our Frequently Asked Questions section on the website for more information. We have tried a zillion ways to make everything work and this is it. Really it is.
4. Supplies are available in the room in the event that you forget your entire case or bag, so if dad took your supplies to work in the other car, chill.
However, If you run out of something you need, or if you have forgotten something you’ve taken out of your case, you will have to purchase it during class time. All supplies are sold at 15%-40% discount off the MSRP, so that’s pretty cool. You will be required to pay for supplies THAT DAY, if they’re needed during class. We have an online store and will call or text you during class to make a payment online so your student will be able to continue his or her project uninterrupted. Please tell your children that you have agreed to this. They tend to hide the fact that they have lost or used up something. Download a supply checklist from our Supplies Page.
5. Drop Off/Pick up – Please don’t let your children run out to the car without letting the teacher know parents have arrived! We will freak out. Children and teenagers cannot be left unattended at the school to wait after the school is closed. We will sit there with them until we hand them off to you. No joke!
AND ALSO, please, please do not park along the sidewalk or wait there get your child. This blocks other people from parking, leaving, and even pulling into our facility from the street. Instead, please use a designated parking spot. It’s a BIG safety hazard for cars to block the view too. When it’s raining and dark, people park and wait, but kids are running to cars because of the rain and will dart out from behind the ones who are against the sidewalk. Our nerves get seriously wracked! Thank you.
6. Sickness – Feverish dripping-nose kiddos will be quarantined, prayed over, and sent home. Try your best to avoid this scenario.
7. Closings: All Weather-related closings will be sent to you via text message and might actually be posted on the website, but don’t hold your breath. Please opt-in for the texts. We only send texts to the affected families so you don’t get other class’s notifications. Pretty smart. So, we do not always follow Williamson county weather closings, as they tend to be a bit, shall we say, jumpy? about snow and ice. If there is no snow or ice, we are here having art class. Also, if the snow or ice comes at 5 or 6, we may close even if school was in, since everyone will be driving students home after dark. Ice + dark is not a good equation and we do not want you sliding around in and on it.
8. Breaks: Our holidays, Christmas & Spring break are the same as Williamson County Schools. See the calendar. The week of Thanksgiving we have classes only on Monday, and the rest of the week is off. We do NOT close for any Monday holidays, except for Labor Day.
If you need to cancel, you may do so for 1. private family emergencies, 2. moving out of Middle TN, 3. health issues, 4. dissatisfaction or 5. finances – We need 30 days advance notice on or before our cancellation cut-off date of February 20th using our CANCELLATION FORM. We understand when things change or if something big comes up. Please call Dennas at 615-202-6426 if you need to discuss. Please read our Frequently Asked Questions (Q & A) also on this page, for more information, and look at our detailed cancellation explanation. Please ask for a scholarship application if finances are causing trouble. We like to solve that problem!
Whatever you do, please don’t attempt to make any changes in your class by speaking to one of us in person, especially when classes are going or ending, or starting, or about to start, or well, any other time. Let us make it clear; all verbal communication will be forgotten immediately by visual people like us. (“who was that I just spoke with?! didn’t they have a purple shirt?) Only by using the cancellation form will a tuition be considered for cancellation, and only before our cut off date. (ok, if something really freaky happens, call. We are pretty understanding folks).
To move a student to another class, please call or text.
SUMMER CANCELLATIONS must be made at least 7 days before the camp or workshop begins. Buffet cancellations may be made at least 24 hours before the beginning of the class.
11. Permissions: Unless you let us know otherwise, in registering for a course, you give Firstlight permission to reproduce photos of your artwork that has been created in the classroom, ONLY for use in promoting our businesses, Firstlight Arts Academy and our sister curriculum sites, theartinstructor.comand homeschoolingart.com, in our advertising, promotions, social media, and web pages. We do not have any interest other than that. Please also consider helping us out by granting permission to use your student classroom images as well.
Done! See that didn’t take long at all.
Here is our cancelation policy explained in extra loving detail.
Firstlight Arts Academy loves art students and we want to keep ’em happy. If you or your child is unhappy for any reason, please let us know as soon as you can so that we can address the issue. We like to be encouraging and proactive. Please know that talking to us about anything will be as good an experience as we can make it!
Most schools are a tight business financially, and we struggle to make the ends meet every single year. We simply cannot operate successfully without full classes all year long. We are a school-year supplemental program, with most of our activity squeezed into a 2-hour window each day. Students usually sign up for these type of courses at the beginning of the school year, and it’s harder to fill empty spaces in the middle of the year. We also do most of our advertising during the sign-up season at the beginning of the school year.
That’s why we ask for a commitment from our families. It’s a promise that you will do your best to complete the courses purchased, and give us a chance to work with you. In turn, we promise that we will do our best to make the art course as fabulous as we can in every way. We can’t refund a course when people just want to try something new that came up. Then we have an empty seat that someone else could have used.
There are other reasons beyond just keeping us going, however, that makes sticking to your commitment a great idea.
- Each class is a wonderful little social group, and we hate to see it disturbed during the year.
- The curriculum is designed to be taken for the full year, so quitting gives you an incomplete art course.
- We may have given away a month of tuition to someone who referred you as a yearly sign-up.
- The most important reason: Artists can have ups and downs, and it is good for them to see that they can get past a few “learners” and find a “keeper” by sticking with it past the mood of the moment. This can actually be critical to the enjoyment of art for the rest of your life. We have lots of stories…
That said, we understand when things come up unexpectedly. If you have to quit for some unforeseen issue, or if you feel that the program has not fulfilled our description of it, then there is a 30 day cancelation policy. To request a cancelation and refund, you MUST use our cancelation form before February 20th. Please contact our founder and director, Dennas to discuss your situation.
If you are having financial trouble and that is affecting your decision, then please talk to us to see if we can work something out together. There are several scholarship options available to you.
Current Wellness Practices & Policies (tap to open)
In-Studio Students: Please Read thoroughly. Thank you.
We’re carefully doing everything possible to keep our students and staff safe. We need everyone’s cooperation and commitment to the safety policies outlined below. – Thank you!
1. Physical Distancing & Screening
- Separate entrances. We will keep each class as separate from others as we can with Back and Middle studios entering at our back door (See MAP below).
- Drop off and pick up children outside at the studio door instead of entering the facility. We have welcoming check-in teachers at the door. At pick-up, students will need to be walked from the studio door to your car. Please park and come get your student. (see MAP below)
- Screening. We are taking touchless temperatures upon arrival.
- Floors are marked to show students where to walk and stand.
- Personal items. Each student has a space for personal items.
- Space. We’ve changed our room layouts to ensure each student is 6 feet from others and that there is a clear and open path to the bathrooms.
- Supplies. Students have their own personal supplies.
- Food. Please send personal snacks and drinks with your student if breaks are planned in your camp.
- Restrooms: Teacher or students sanitize the restrooms after each use. Except for emergencies, classes will have designated breaks for students to use the restrooms.
- All surfaces are wiped down with disinfectant between classes.
- Everyone is required to wear a mask over mouth and nose. No bandanas. Make sure the mask fits so that it doesn’t pop down when student speaks.
- Fans. We air out the rooms with external air as much as possible. Fans are in each room.
- HEPA filter air cleaners are running in the center of every room. (These can filter almost everything, including virus particles).
- UVC light is utilized to further destroy pathogens in the air (inside our air filters).
Traffic Map With Pickup/Drop-Off Instructions:
We apologize for any inconvenience, but there is no hang-out room for parents through the summer. Parents should stay outside during pickup and drop off times, but if you want to make an appointment for a walk-through you can call or text us.
Questions & Answers! (tap to open)
If you have questions, you just found the answers! (If for some amazing reason you don’t find the answer you need, just give us a call and we’ll do our best to help).
Q – Do you offer art courses for grownups too?
A – Yes we do! There are daytime and evening classes offered. Select the menu, “School Year Art” above.
Q – Do you offer art courses for children younger than school-age, or special needs?
A – Yes we do! Our KidsART courses begin at age 6 (this year we are not doing 4 & 5 year olds due to safety restrictions and limited space). See the on-going classes page for information. We offer summer camps and workshops for all ages too. If you have special needs, please call the number at the top of the page, or text Dennas from our Contact Page.
Q – Do you have discounts for siblings or more than one class?
A – Yes, all second or third enrollments are 10% off. This is a school-year discount. (Summer does not have sibling discounts available).
Q – Are supplies included in the tuition price?
A – The supplies are not included. For all of our classes for ages 8 and up, you will need to purchase a full set of supplies in addition to tuition. KidsART supplies have a one-time yearly fee for personal and classroom supplies.
Q – Do you sell art supplies?
A – Yes we do! – And always at 15% OFF the published MSRP. Tap the SUPPLIES tab above to learn more and place an order.
Q – What is Open Studio?
A – This is our Saturday art session for our students. It’s usually on the first Saturday of each month, with different times for 3 different age groups. Students currently in a weekly class can come to Open Studio for free, to make up for any missed classes, or just to get extra time to work. Open Studio is regularly only $5.
> 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM for Adults
> 11:15 AM to 12:30 AM for Ages 6 – 7 (and 8 if still in KidsART later in the school year)
> 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM for Ages 8 and older (Separate rooms for age groups)
There is a teacher, but it’s not a structured class. You can get a bit of help if you need it including a lesson plan from any days you’ve missed. Sometimes the facilitator is painting too. It is first-come, first-served. All 3 studios are open and you can drop in at any time during the open hours.
Q – What if I already have some art supplies?
A – Bring them!
In class, however, we like for everyone to be using the same kinds of paints, pigments, papers, canvas, etc. You can use your own supplies as long as you have everything on the supply list or something that is of equal quality or better, (such as a larger palette pad). Brushes especially, should not be budget models that come with art sets. Please see the SUPPLIES tab above, and go to the order supplies page using the button. The order page can be used as a checklist. Skip over what you already have, and check the things that you need. It will tally up a total and when you submit it, we’ll get your order ready by your next class.
Every student must start the year with a FULL YEAR’S WORTH of supplies – so we don’t have to take up class time managing supplies for 200 students each week. Thank you!
Q – If I sign up, how do I know what’s going on?
A – Email and Text messages – PLEASE DO NOT OPT OUT OF EMAIL OR TEXTS!
We have to offer the opt-out because we’ll be blocked if we don’t, but if you opt out you will never get any emails from us ever. So please don’t opt out! We only send a handful of sales-related emails each year anyway, because… emails.
We also send out emails when something important comes up that you need to know or to bring to class.
We will always send texts for last-minute updates about closings so if you want to receive these, make sure you OPT IN when you create your account on our customer portal. You can change these settings at any time.
Q – What if I’m not a beginner? Which class should I take?
A – Our recommendation is always the same. Foundations is designed not only for beginners, but also intermediate and even advanced students. One of the reasons it works is that artists always need to review the basics, which we use all the time. Another is that what you do with a project changes and improves based on your abilities. Any project can be taken to higher levels in vision, technique, and creativity.
Finally, we teach our foundational principles in ways that no one else does, including information and techniques that are uniquely ours. The methods, exercises, and insights we have developed, make learning easier, understanding clearer, and lead to improvement and competence more easily. This also means that starting right away in an advanced group means a new student will not have the same reference points or vocabulary as the rest of the group.
One more thing about our classes that is helpful for intermediate students is that our second level (for years 3 & 4) – Creations – is taken within the same classroom as the Foundations. That means that if a project comes up where a more experienced Foundations student is already proficient, she and the teacher can give this student the Creations version of the lesson. These lessons are more challenging and designed for creating finished works rather than practicing new skills.
Q – What if I want to quit the art course sometime during the year?
A – A yearly educational course like ours, and for most educational courses, is a one-time purchase for the school year, but since we offer a monthly payment plan, it can seem like we are going month to month. The payment plan is a convenience for our families so you don’t have to pay the course fee all at once. Cancelling a class is actually returning the course you purchased and asking for your money back for the rest of the year. We do have an option for doing this with our 30-day cancellation policy. Please continue if you are considering cancelling.
Cancelling with a 30-day notice is largely reserved for insurmountable reasons, such as moving, dissatisfaction with our teaching, or health issues. Otherwise, it is very important for the Class, the Student, and for Firstlight, that registrations are completed as purchased. Signing up for other activities later on in the year, or feeling busy, is not what our cancellation policy is designed for. Financial considerations can usually be handled with our scholarships, which we take applications for at any time during the year.
Issues For The Class
Students in a class develop community. Taking students out mid-year is a loss to that community, and some students take it hard when a friend disappears. It can cause other students to become discouraged and not enjoy their class. Other students often ask about their friends when they’ve only missed one week. Other class considerations are that if a class is small, we can fall under our break-even point with just one cancellation. If the class is full, we probably have turned away other students who wanted in the class.
Issues For The Student
Our courses are designed to give a strong foundation to every art student. The curriculum has been crafted and revised for years to ensure that once you get through the 2 years of Foundations lessons, you can stand on your own and pursue art at home with a degree of confidence. While It does help to continue with our advanced lessons (if you are serious about pursuing art), for the casual artist, Foundations is a complete course. If you quit even for a month or two and then come back, you will have a significant gap in that course. Key lessons are intermingled with the more fun-oriented lessons, so that students won’t be overwhelmed, and will enjoy “doing what I want” in addition to learning valuable insights. Since we have a two-year cycle, that means taking any break, such as cancelling mid-year and planning to return in the fall, means the missing pieces won’t be available for two years down the road. This makes it more difficult for a student to advance to the next level, since they don’t have certain skills or insights. That said, we have made it work when needed!
Issues For The School
Our main enrollment season is in the late Summer and early Fall. Cancelling your art course mid-year is like returning a partially used product that most likely can never be resold to another student. We try hard to make the courses and supplies as affordable as possible, and we have tight margins as a result. In short, to stay in business we need courses that have been sold, to be paid for, and offering the payment plan shouldn’t negate the idea that the entire year has been purchased.
We do offer a 30-day cancelation before our cutoff date in February. If you have something big come up unexpectedly that requires you to cancel your enrollement, please use our 30-day advance notice CANCELATION REQUEST FORM. Because we don’t sign up students later in the year, we have a cut-off date of February 20 for all cancelations. Please read the policy section directly below for instructions and more explanation.
If you are considering cancelling, please give us a call and we’ll do everything we can to help you finish your course in a way that works for you. Thank you!
Q – How should I pay tuition?
A – There are two ways to pay the tuition. You may opt to pay the tuition up front, or split the cost into smaller monthly installments. Most of our families use our no-cost monthly installment plan with a credit or debit card. You can set this up when you make your account log in and/or register for a class. The monthly drafts occur on the first of each month.
Q – Can I store any art supplies at the academy?
A – No. Due to the health concerns, we must keep all supplies with students who take them home and bring them back each week.
Q – Do you give private lessons?
A – We do not. There is really no need for private lessons. With art, private lessons means the instructor would have most of his or her time spent waiting on the artist to get to a stopping point. As an instructor goes around one of our small classes and teaches each student individually, it’s very similar to a private lesson. We also feel strongly that art is great when it’s also a social learning experience. There is nothing like support from friends.
Q – Do I have to pay for any classes that I miss?
A – This is another good question. The answer is a simple yes, but there are several reasons why. The main thing to realize, is that we offer art courses, and you are reserving the entire course of 36 lessons. We have monthly installment payments as a service to our students, because most people do not want to pay all at once for the whole course. We do not charge interest at all.
• It is your responsibility to attend the course you’ve registered for. Tuition is not based on a weekly or even monthly basis, or there would be different amounts due each month.
• Life is hectic and full of things that call for our attention – all the time. For art course to be attended regularly, it needs to be a chosen commitment, instead of a decision that you make based on what is happening right before a class.
• Most Firstlight courses fill to capacity, and we often have people on waiting lists. It would be unfair for one person to reserve a valuable spot, and then not pay for it.
For all of these reasons, we charge the entire tuition for the year, regardless of classes missed. This is standard practice in all other course-style programs – for the same reasons.
OPEN STUDIO is free for students once a month, on a Saturday.
This is a special provision for you – we have our free open studio (for registered students), to help with making up for missed art sessions. That’s up to 30 extra hours we are here for you. This is not standard practice in other programs!
Q – Why do I need to pay for 30 days after I cancel?
A – There are two reasons.
1) We are looking for committed artists, not a place for kids to just hang out. Since we can’t keep our doors open without full classes for the school year courses, we need for families to consider the decision carefully. Without a 30-day policy, and especially with our easy interest free monthly payment plan, it’s easy for someone to begin the year treating it as a month-to-month class, which it’s not. We’d hate for a person to only try us out for a month without that consideration, and then casually quit, taking a space in the class that other, more committed artists would have liked to have. Once courses are 1 or 2 months into the school year, many people will have looked elsewhere for after-school activities, and our courses may have empty spaces the rest of the year.
2) It can take time for another student to change their schedule and fill a vacant spot.
The good news is that you are encouraged to stay in the class for those 30 days and make more art!
Q – When do you close due to weather or holidays?
A – Weather-related closings are based on road conditions, and we wait as long as we can before canceling classes. We do not follow the Williamson County public school closings. They tend to close when there is no actual snow or very little, and well… kids like to get out for art class. However, if there actually has been snow, and there is ANY ice or slushy stuff on any roads, then we are usually going to be closed.
We will let you know via a TEXT MESSAGE that goes out to the classes meeting that day. Please opt in for text messages so you’ll receive these.
For holidays, you can see our calendar. We have 4 weeks off each year, and only one Monday holiday, Labor Day. Here’s the rundown:
- School-year session runs Mid August to the week before Memorial Day, which is 40 weeks total time.
- We have 36 weeks of curriculum.
- Labor Day we do not meet. We DO meet the Monday before Thanksgiving, to make up for Labor Day.
- We do not have classes the rest of Thanksgiving week.
- We take off 2 weeks at Christmas.
- We take off a week at the same time as Williamson County Schools for Spring break.
- There are no other Monday holidays after Labor day. We are here for all the others.
Q – How do I make up a snow day?
A – For make-ups, we are open once a month on a Saturday for our Open Studio. Please come to these to make up for any missed classes. Registered students can come free.
Q – Is there child care provided during classes for younger siblings?
A – No, but we do have a small library room if you want to hang out. Space is limited. Siblings need to remain in the library, not in the classrooms. We have free WiFi.
Note: We do not have our regular Hang-Out room open this year due to virus concerns. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.
Q – Why do you not use oil paints in art classes?
A – Acrylics offer a wider range of techniques and is much less expensive. While oil is unique and wonderful, it can also cause allergic reactions in many people, and is very difficult to clean up. It’s also harder to find good pigments and mediums that are non-toxic.
That said, In advanced courses oils can be used, and we encourage (and sell) water-soluble oil paints. It’s magic.
Q – Can I stay and wait during my child’s class?
A – During the health crisis we do not have a hang-out room for parents. Not only do we need to keep occupancy down, but we have moved a lot of our materials into the room to accomodate distance between students in the studios.
Absolutely, and we have some chairs, a small table and free WiFi. Just know that there’s not a whole lot of space and kids are coming and going. It’s up to you if you want to hang out with us or go run errands.
Q – What should I wear to class?
A – Everyone should try to wear old clothes that they can get paint on, or bring a smock or apron. In the winter, an apron doesn’t help keep paint off of long sleeves though. Plan for messiness! The best idea is to have a long-sleeved shirt for a smock in your art bag. We are not providing smocks during the health crisis! Please bring your own.
Q – Do you offer scholarships?
A – Yes. We have an application that can be obtained by emailing using the tab below, and asking specifically about it. Scholarships are awarded based on need and talent, and cover half of the tuition for the year. We get a lot of emails so put “enrollment scholarship” (without quotes) into the subject line. Please make sure to call or text to follow up with us.
1. Download the form here and fill out as best you can
2. Send it via email as a photo or scan.
3. Call us to get the email address and notify us OR you can text the document using the button below on a phone. Thank you!
Our registration page shows current availability in each class.
Use the big green SIGN UP! button above to head over to our Customer Portal, which is run by a big whoop-de-doo software company. If you have any big whoop-de-doo problems with it let us know, and we’ll make things happen.
Not Getting Emails?! Click Here To Learn How To Fix This.
2021-22 School Year
Please take a moment to learn how we’re doing things.
We’re committed to doing every single thing possible to maintain the safety of students, families, and staff.
Physical Safety Measures
We have implemented everything we know, to physically ensure safety and containment. Masks are required, and we have installed ventilation as well as HEPA filtered, and UVC light, air cleaners in every studio. There’s more about our health and safety above in the blue box. Tap to open it.
Our students will need to help us disinfect their tables and chairs at the end of class, and there are easy instructions and supplies for quick-sanitizing the bathroom for the next student (for older kids). We will be taking designated restroom breaks.
Pick-up & Drop-off
There are guide-maps below, that you can view and even print out if you want. We are using both the front and back entrances, and we have a pickup line for the back entrance that is new this year.
You can view our weekly schedule HERE (tap the schedule tab), and see which studio your class is in. Then use this entrance guide:
FRONT STUDIO = Front Entrance
MIDDLE STUDIO = Back Entrance
BACK STUDIO = Back Entrance
We can’t share things, so we won’t be able to provide as many materials. Here’s a quick guide:
• You must bring your own SMOCK. An old long-sleeve dad-shirt is great for all seasons, since you can roll up the sleeves when needed.
• Any studio supplies are designated with student names and kept separated.
• We still provide materials if you leave your set at home, but they go into a week-long quarantine afterwards. Please try not to forget!
• Only teachers handle reference photos and stands.
There are 4 modes for the online hybrid classes. The class begins with Facilitator Mode: you get warmup art prompts and can talk with your online friends and facilitator, Miss Ruthie! Then there is a greeting time in Social Mode, talking with your in-studio classmates, before moving into the Instructions with Demo Mode and/or Screen Mode (presentations). During the class work-times you’ll get to go back to the Social Mode and enjoy interacting with the entire class, both online and in-studio.
Everyone in the age 8 and up classes must begin the year with a full year’s worth of supplies. If you haven’t purchased all your supplies yet, please make an appointment with Ruthie by emailing her at email@example.com
KidsART students will be charged a $50 supply fee for an in-room personal art supply bin.
Traffic and Parking Maps
Too bad we can’t use masks like these! But masks are required for all students right now. Thank you!
Everyone has a 6 ft table of their own.
Fun places to stand 6 ft apart.