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New school year signals an opportunity for all to learn!

It had been 10 years since brothers Nick and Eddie had the chance to experience a first day of school.

That changed on Aug. 8th when the brothers walked through the doors of Little City’s ChildBridge Center for Education with smiles on their faces and ready to learn. Nick and Eddie are just two of the record-setting 43 students attending the ChildBridge Center in the 2023-24 school year, a substantial increase from the 28 students who attended last school year.

Like many of the students at the school, Nick and Eddie struggled to find a learning environment where they could grow and succeed. A difficult personal situation led them to being homeschooled for many years, but after moving back to the area in 2022, Little City quickly emerged as the best solution.

“They had been out of school for so long that when they first tried York High School’s special education program last year, it wasn’t working out”, said ChildBridge Center Principal, Phil Siegel. “When they came here late last year they adjusted so well and you could see the potential right away. It’s great they could have a first day of school this year and have the
benefit of a full school year here.”

While Nick will be in the high school program, Eddie will enter the transitional program as he nears his 20th birthday, getting ready to learn the vocational and life skills that can set him up for success in adult programming. But the school has more than just the high school and transitional programs in full swing.

A record 12 elementary-aged students will start the year at ChildBridge while another record four THRIVE classrooms will be utilized during the year.

The THRIVE program is what sets the ChildBridge Center apart from other schools as the only program in Illinois that serves students with the most profound challenges, both educationally and residentially. The debut of the program was a huge success in its pilot run last year, helping multiple students move to less restrictive environments and gain more independence.

Phil said that, as the school reaches record growth, they are looking for more ways to use the space and increase engagement. New features this year will include expanded use of Smartboard technology for students to have hands-on experiences; a full year of swimming as part of the adaptive physical education (which provides noticeable emotional and mental benefits along with physical exercise); and weaving in the ACE curriculum that is specially designed to meet each student at their own learning level and pace.

“This is the kind of place we are and the kind of place we want to be. One where all students have the opportunity to learn and grow because we truly believe all students can do so,” Phil said. “Like with Nick and Eddie, we are proving there is a place for them where they can be among their peers and have their first back-to-school day in 10 years.”

With the unprecedented growth happening at the ChildBridge Center for Education, we continue to ask for your generous support today to continue expanding our educational programs and welcome more students in need.