Will and Jada Smith’s New Village Academy was 'a front for Scientology', says ex-teacher
A former teacher at Will and Jada Smith’s private elementary school has claimed that it was actually “a front for Scientology where young children were quietly taught the ways of the controversial church,” as reported by The Sun. Dr Mariappan "Jawa" Jawaharlal apparently used to teach robotics from 2008 to 2010 at the New Village Leadership Academy (NVLA), which began as a homeschool in one of the star pair’s free California mansions in 2007. The private elementary school closed down in 2013, but was under scrutiny for the duration of its existence for its ties to the controversial religion.
The homeschool reportedly initially saw 20-30 students before a real one was started on a campus close to Indian Hills High School. Speaking with The Sun, Jawa, an associate dean at California State University, said: “There's no question about it, the New Village Leadership Academy was a Scientology school. This was an elementary school and they had books on Scientology in the library and elsewhere in the school.”
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Will and Jada both have time and again denied their and their school’s connections to Scientology. The Oscar-winning actor in 2006 had said, “I've talked to Tom [Cruise] about it. [There's] lots of incredible, wonderful concepts but Jada and I don't necessarily believe in organized religion. I was raised in a Baptist household, and my grandmother would get up out of her casket [if I became a Scientologist].”
Besides, in 2009, the 50-year-old actress had said: “All I can say is it is not a Scientology school. Now, if you don't trust me, and you are questioning my integrity, that's a whole different matter. That is straight evil to think that I would bring families into that educational institution and then try to get them to convert into some religion.”
Again in 2020, she had insisted, “For me, all religions have been my home. Which is why I didn't have a problem going to the Church of Scientology and saying 'I'm not a Scientologist. I just want to be here and see what you have to offer.'”
But Jawa asserted: “[Will and Jada] may have denied it, but there was definitely a drastic tilt toward Scientology in that school.” The guest robotics lecturer is not the only one to claim such a thing. Previously, Jacqueline Olivier, who was the first headteacher of NVLA, had stated that the institution was “essentially a Scientology school,” which blatantly showcased books and photos by the church's founder — L Ron Hubbard. Not just that, definitions and terms related to Scientology were also used openly. Olivier added, “My feeling is that Jada was really into [Scientology] and Will was sort of whatever… but he took all the courses too.”
Another person to make such a claim was reportedly Sam Freeman, Placido Domingo’s daughter-in-law, who was earlier a member of the Scientology church. She said, “When I moved to LA from Clearwater, Florida, I was just hanging out with celebs and their kids at the Celebrity Center. Jada would always be around. There was a Sunday buffet where you can invite your friends and they brought in Daphne Wayans, her then-husband Keenan, and their five kids.”
“Daphne told me that Jada had introduced them to Scientology, Daphne was really excited telling me all this, but that’s what Jada did - she was charged with getting people into Scientology. Jada was always around Celebrity Center, doing her own thing with Kelly Preston [John Travolta’s late wife] in the President’s Office. They were like the Stepford Wives of Scientology,” Freeman added.
The Sun report stated that Jawa was offered the job at NVLA by Olivier, who sent him a mail in 2007. “I went to the school, which at that time was inside their home, and she told me that this is Will Smith's school. She said she wanted me to work there once a week and do the robotics program I'd been doing successfully at other schools. Jackie also told me that money would not be a limitation.
“I'd worked in very poor schools in the past, but she said you don't have to worry about those things here, just tell us what you need and we'll get it. I was blown away by the school and the money that was poured into it. In a regular school we'd struggle to buy the right equipment, but here they would buy $10,000-$20,000 worth of items with the snap of a finger.”
Jawa also reportedly claimed that he was not treated badly by Will and Jada. He fondly recalled, “He [Will] was very interested and respectful … although he did bow to me like I was Japanese - I’m Indian. Though I took that to be a sign of respect, not anything mean. But Jada I would see coming and going. The way Jada treats you, is she walks past you like you’re a tree trunk or something - she doesn’t acknowledge you exist. But Will Smith I’d say is much more of a warm person.”
But according to the ex-teacher as reported by The Sun, things went upside down when Olivier was terminated from her position. He said, “Jackie was an outspoken person, she's an educator and she was focused on education. But Jada would come in and say, 'this is how you should do things' ... but just because you're rich doesn't mean to know about how to teach kids. And once Jackie left it was certainly not a leadership academy ... it was anarchy.”
Jawa reportedly noted, “I wasn't directly affected by the whole Scientology thing, but the school was not in the right direction in terms of what they were teaching. Many of the teachers who were hired after Jackie left were not qualified. I think they had probably different take on how to teach or a different approach because of Scientology. In any case, I worked for another year with the new principal, then I decided to leave and I told her, 'I can't come here anymore', and then stopped going,” before adding: “Instead of talking about happiness or feelings, they’d talk to the children about a ‘guide to better living.’ You don't talk to kids about things like that. That's certainly the impact of Scientology, there's no question about it to me.”
The Hollywood power couple is yet to respond to The Sun's report.