Best of Arlington 2023: Education & Family

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An art class at the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington (Photo by Dawn Whitmore)

Reader Pick
Kids Art Classes

Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington

At MoCA Arlington (formerly Arlington Arts Center), artistic inspiration isn’t imparted via stuffy slideshows or sequestered behind a red velvet rope. It’s a hands-on experience. The museum and gallery in Virginia Square offers art classes for children as young as 2 (“My 1st Portfolio”), elementary-age kids (from portraiture to color theory) and teens—who earlier this year applied through MoCA to collaborate with DMV artists to design and paint sneakers brought in by the public. All of these invitations to create happen amid the art building’s rotating exhibitions and installations featuring both emerging and established artists. That’s very much on purpose. “It’s not necessarily about the old masters,” says education coordinator Lia Ferro. “It’s about living artists, too. We want kids to feel welcome in a gallery space.” –Susan Anspach

Other top vote-getter:

Art House 7

 

Food4neighbors 19

A Food for Neighbors collection event (Photo by J. Michael Whalen)

Editor Pick
School-Based Food Pantry

Food for Neighbors

Food for Neighbors executive director Karen Joseph can tell you her marketing budget down to the penny. That would be zero pennies. Founded in 2016 to tackle food insecurity, her scrappy nonprofit has been propelled entirely by word of mouth. The Herndon-based organization has grown from serving two Northern Virginia schools in its first year to 34 today, having added its first four Arlington schools to the fold in October. The nonprofit’s Red Bag Program is simple by design. Volunteers distribute bags that community members can fill with food off a wish list. Collection, sorting and distribution ensue—primarily at area middle and high schools, whose students tend to receive less aid than younger kids and families. The operation is currently putting food into the hands of some 3,800 students who might otherwise have to skip meals. “People worry about bad behavior and truancy at school,” Joseph says. “Oftentimes, if you peel back that first layer, somebody just needs food.” –Susan Anspach

 

Happy Grooming

Keeping pooches pretty at Happy Grooming (Courtesy photo)

Reader Pick
Dog Groomer

Happy Grooming

Occupying a tiny storefront at the end of the Lee Center strip mall near Cherrydale, Happy Grooming has a no-frills exterior. It has a no-frills interior, too—unless you count vivid tangerine paint as a frill. But no one is coming here for the ambience. This is a place where, if you know, you know. And—if the endlessly bleating phone and ceaselessly chiming door are any indication—pet owners have spread the word that this is where dogs go to look their best. Sisters Mary and Ann Asawatangsathian opened Happy Grooming in 1999, and they have no plans to expand. Quality control, which they maintain with their small staff of eight, is just too important. Customers trust them, Ann says, because they don’t shave dogs “unless very necessary.” And they’re happy to share grooming tips that clients can maintain at home. –Susan Anspach

Other top vote-getters:

Custom Canines, Dogma, Happy Tails, Loyal Companion, The Muddy Mutt, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming

Reader Pick
College Admissions Advisor

Amber Cobb Vazquez – Tutoring Club of McLean

Other top vote-getters:

Ann Dolin – Educational Connections, Brian Giroux – IvySummit

 

selective focal photo of crayons in yellow box

(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

Reader Pick
Preschool

Arlington Unitarian Cooperative Preschool

Other top vote-getters:

Congressional School, Full Circle Montessori School, The Griffin Academy of Westminster School, Little Ambassadors’ Academy, Rock Spring Cooperative Preschool, Trinity Presbyterian Preschool, Westover Baptist Preschool

Reader Pick
Kids Birthday Party Venue

Scramble Falls Church

Other top vote-getter:

The Little Gym of Arlington, Ultrazone

 

Reader Pick
Private K-8 School

St. Thomas More Cathedral School

Other top vote-getter:

Congressional School, Full Circle Montessori School, The Langley School, The Linder Academy, Saint Agnes Catholic School, The Sycamore School, Westminster School

 

Reader Pick
Private School for Nontraditional Learners

The Sycamore School

Other top vote-getter:

Commonwealth Academy, Full Circle Montessori School, The Linder Academy, Oakwood School

 

Reader Pick
Boarding School (Mid-Atlantic)

The Madeira School

Other top vote-getters:

Episcopal High School, Foxcroft School, Georgetown Preparatory School, Mercersburg Academy, Woodberry Forest School