Policies have been updated during the health crisis.
Here is all the wisdom we can muster. Tap the bars to open the full text below.
Health & Wellness Overview
Firstlight Art Academy is following the latest CDC schools guidelines issued May 19th. We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable among us.
To be open, we need everyone’s cooperation and commitment to the safety policies outlined below.
All of our Classes are Very Small
10 people or less in one working space
Summer program begins June 1. The school-year program begins August 17.
Summer Wellness Practices & Policies (tap to open)
Physical Distancing & Screening
- As much as possible, classes will each have a separate entrance and designated bathroom. We will keep each group separate from the other.
- Parents will drop off and pick up children in car lines instead of entering the facility. We’ll have welcoming check-in teachers at the car lines. At pick-up, students will be walked to the cars.
- We will be asking the CDC screening questions and taking touchless temperatures upon arrival.
- Floors will be marked to show students where to walk and stand.
- Each student will be assigned a space for personal items.
- 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 bathroom.
- Students have designated supplies.
- Please send personal snacks and drinks with your student if needed.
- Assistant will sanitize the bathrooms after every use.
- All surfaces will be wiped down with disinfectant before class, during break, and after everyone leaves.
- Everyone will wash their hands upon arrival, during breaks, after each bathroom break, and before leaving.
- Everyone is required to wear a mask or bandana covering.
- Each studio has a break-chair, far away from everyone else, where students can remove their mask for a few minutes.
Lunches – if student is staying for the afternoon (summer program only)
As much as possible we will be eating outdoors on our new picnic tables under tents with distance between students. If weather does not permit this, we will be in the studio but with open doors and fans to keep air moving.
These policies come from governor Lee and the CDC. If everyone can come prepared knowing these guidelines, we’ll have a fun summer of making art.
Q & A - You found all the answers! (tap to open/close)
Q – Do you offer art courses for grownups too?
A – Yes we do! There are daytime and evening classes offered. Start HERE.
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 4. 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 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 – This depends on the class. For our KidsART classes (ages 4 & 5, or 6 & 7), yes, the supplies are 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.
Q – Do you sell art supplies?
A – Yes we do! – And always at 15% OFF the published MSRP. Check the Art Supply page.
Q – What is Open Studio?
A – This is our Saturday art session for our students. It’s every Saturday with different times and age groups. Students currently in a weekly class get 10 free passes, to make up for missed classes or just to get extra time to work. Open Studio is regularly only $5.
11:00 AM to 12:30 AM for Ages 4 – 7 (and 8 if still in KidsART later in the school year)
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM for Ages 8 – 12, Teens, and Adults (Separate rooms for 3 age groups)
There is a teacher, but it’s not a structured class. You can get some help as you need it. Sometimes the teacher is painting too. All 3 studios are open and you can drop in at any time during the open hours. It is usually on the first Saturday of the month with 3 sessions for all ages.
Q – What if I already have some art supplies?
A – Bring them! In class, however, we like for everyone to be using the same 10-color paint set for mixing, and the same quality of supplies. 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 pallette pad). Brushes especially, should not be budget models that come with art sets. Please go to our Art Supply page and download the provided PDF checklist. Use that to see what you already have, and then you’ll know exactly what you need to get.
Q – If I sign up, how do I know what’s going on?
A – Our Website (Articles & News Page). Bookmark it or save to your home screen. School closings will be posted here, and all events or class needs. We also send out emails and even text messages when something important comes up that you need to know.
We will always send texts for last-minute updates about closings so if you want to receive these, make sure you indicate so when you create your account on our parent 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 – During the health crisis, please visit this page. Thank you.
REGULAR ANSWER – 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 after you’ve made your deposit and registration fee payment. You may opt to pay all 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 2nd or 3rd of each month.
Q – Can I store any art supplies at the academy?
A – Yes and no, but that doesn’t mean we’re wishy-washy. We have a space for large pads and art boards, so those can stay. The rest of the supplies need to be taken with you each week since we do not have that much storage space. The cases have nifty handles and we give you a free bag too!
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 once a month.
This is a special provision for you – we have our free open studio (for registered students) once a month on a Saturday for 3 hours (1.5 hours for KidsART ages), 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 – When we miss a class, we slide the curriculum forward. Then when we have a day of artists’ choice (usually towards the end of the school year), we will skip over that week since it can be made up much easier than a more critical lesson. For make-ups, we are open 9 Saturdays each year. Please come to these to make up for any missed classes.
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.
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 – 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.
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. You might also want to call or text. Actually, you should call or text. Often.
Email form for scholarship – write “scholarship” in the subject line.
The best policies you'll ever read... (tap to open/close)
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 maybe even a little bit fun. If you have more questions please call or text.
Most of these policies are for our school year classes.
Summer students should look at 5, 6, 9, 10 & 11 AND also – Summer ART Buffet reservations must be made via text 615-202-6426 the morning you plan to attend if you haven’t already signed up.
Ok, here we go.
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 $30, 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.
During the health crisis, please visit this page. Thank you.
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 3 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.
Our goal is to bring continuing art instruction and mentoring to children and adults in the areas of visual art, and to help them realize the full potential of the giftings that God has blessed them with. We want to encourage, to nurture, to provide answers, to challenge, and to inspire artists of all ages.
2. Vision Statement
The world needs happy artists. We want to help artists become more confident, knowledgeable, and satisfied.
We have several artistic teaching ideas here at Firstlight. Some are in-line with traditional thinking, but most may not be what you’d expect. We have been using these ideas since we began over 12 years ago, and there has been some spectacular artwork created, but more important, there have been artists who are excited about what they can do. These methods absolutely work. One thing to remember, our main goal is NOT making sure that our students are creating pretty artwork to take home and frame. Rather, we are all about empowering artists to have the freedom and skills to do what they love and do it well. The artwork will come as a result.
1 Creative Authors
We do not usually work on crafts or copying existing artworks. These are great things for quick learning, and sometimes fun to do, but Firstlight is primarily for artists who want to learn how to create their own personal artwork.
The classroom environment should be a lot of fun. If creating art is enjoyable and rewarding, artists will continue to create. Students who have friends and get to talk and enjoy being together make great artwork.
We understand that every single person is different than others. What works for one student will be a problem for another. Only by individual instruction and nurturing will a teacher be able to help an artist grow in the direction they need to go. Every class will have a personality of it’s own, and students need to be in a class that fits his or her temperament.
We want our students to be confident and skilled enough to create art outside of the classroom environment. Many times our lessons will be targeting a technique that the student will use later. This means that much of the work that we do in class will not be frame-able artwork, or “keepers”, but is practice work, or “learners” that will lead to greater confidence in the future. Our goal is for the artist to not have any roadblocks to their own vision.
We try not to teach any particular style, since that is limiting to an artist. Each person’s style will grow from their own preferences and natural tendencies. Copying other artists’ styles and work is sometimes helpful, but not as much as you might think.
The art classroom should be a place to find encouragement rather than to receive criticism. Most artists are already their own harshest critics. So if they are encouraged, students will improve on their own, at their own pace, leading to much greater confidence because there is enjoyment in their own work. Unlike learning to play instruments or learning a physical sport, which are skills and must be rigorously repeated, art is about creating, which must come from an inner place that is nurtured and encouraged, and challenged gently.
If someone does not see the need for improvement, then they are not yet ready to be instructed about that need.
One more thing. While our director and instuctors may be Christians, we don’t preach during classes. Neither do we hide who we are. At Firstlight, we feel that God is the most wonderful creator, and since we are made in His image, He must want us to create as well!
The arts have sometimes followed the world in ways that we don’t want our children to be exposed to. That’s one of the reasons we began Firstlight. We want to do our part in redeeming the arts for our children, as well as for us – pleasing our creator as we create too.