Jada Pinkett Smith adds `schoolmaster' to resume

March 11, 2009 10:02:26 AM PDT
Jada Pinkett Smith is adding another title to her resume: schoolmaster.

The 37-year-old actress-producer-musician and her husband, Will Smith, opened the New Village Leadership Academy last fall. The private school, for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, has 60 students, according to the Web site.

Pinkett Smith hopes to open a companion campus for upper grades.

"My plan is to eventually have a high school," Pinkett Smith said. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'm just trying to make it through this year."

Pinkett Smith, who is set to star in and executive produce a new series on TNT, said she decided to open the elementary school after creating a home-school program for her children, 10-year-old Jaden and 8-year-old Willow.

"More and more parents were like, 'Can we come?"' she said. "Then my house started to fill up. We had like 20 kids and I said, `We might as well start a school."'

The New Village Leadership Academy generated some controversy when it was first announced because it relies on instructional methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The school's director has said it isn't a Scientology facility.

Hubbard's "study technology" is a secular course akin to a Montessori approach, the Web site says.

Pinkett Smith said the school stresses "100 percent mastery," encouraging students to retake exams until they score 100 percent. The student body is ethnically and economically diverse, she said, "which is a very difficult thing to find in Los Angeles, Calif."

She called the school project "serious business."

"It's probably the hardest thing I've ever done," she said, "but it is really rewarding."

Pinkett Smith shared her thoughts on education during a cocktail party celebrating her new show, "HawthoRNe," in which she plays a widowed nurse struggling to overcome her grief while balancing her duties at the hospital with those as a single mom of a teenage daughter. The show is set to premiere in June on TNT.

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