Original Source: Peace Planet Journal
In fall 2016, a yoga studio owner in Yorkville, Illinois said enough is enough and opened an alternative school for prekindergarten through high school that is a cross between home schooling and private school. It feels like home with a pet therapy room, a hydroponic garden and a playground, but they follow a Waldorf curriculum and they also test against the district using standardized tests to be sure they stay on track.
The Grace Holistic Center for Education isn’t just staying on track, they’re excelling. Using a mixed grade mentorship model, students who suffered in large classroom settings with IEPs are now thriving.
“The biggest problem we’re having it seems is the kids don’t want to miss a day when they catch a cold,” Tairi Grace says. “This school helps the students grow beyond just academics.”
Therapeutic in design, the students of the Grace Holistic Center for Education provides wholesome home cooked style lunches from Ginger and Soul, teaches life skills like car mechanics, get regular counselor ‘check in’ time to make sure students have someone to talk to and partner with community based organizations like Kiwanis, the food pantry and the community garden. The students are taught a number of behavioral tools and models to help them interact and process emotions as well as develop a healthy self esteem.
Being bi-lingual herself, Grace knows the importance culturally and intellectually of understanding a variety of languages. The pre-kindergarden classes are Spanish immersion and from there the students attend Spanish as a class. All the students are taught to ability and taught how to mentor. The kindergarten, first grade and second grades are mixed. The third through fifth grades are mixed. The middle schoolers are mixed and the high schoolers are mixed. There is also a visiting homeschool that joins them on Fridays which is also elective day where they are taught art, sewing, aquaponics and other variable skills or means of expression.
“If an emotional situation arises, we say there are two ways to show love: give it away or cry it out. The point is to teach empathy and acceptance as well as boundaries,” says Grace. “We also say there are three ways to deal with things. You can choose to be a tiger and be loud and aggressive, a turtle and hide away, or an owl and use your inner wisdom.”
The students are given opportunities to meditate and take yoga, but, being an inclusive education center, they offer opportunities for bible study if a student so chooses to pursue that. The meditation and yoga are tools for their emotional and self awareness toolbox that give the students the ability to slow down their nervous systems and get control of their thoughts. In the monthly crystal bowl session, the students have the opportunity to hear their own voices, understand sound and relaxation and have hands on experience with the bowls.
As with any school system, the Grace Holistic Center for Education has a series of fund raisers. Most recently they held Bass for Grace, a silent disco at a law office and a student party with balloons and face painters. Coming up they will be bringing back the old Clothing Drive fund and on May 15th they will host the Grace Spring Fling in Yorkville, a carnival with helicopter rides, a petting zoo and great carnival fare.
For more information or to donate, contact the Grace Holistic Center for Education at 331-207-8932 or go to www.ghcfe.org.