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parkland academy(From left to right) Eric (seated), a student at Parkland Preparatory Academy, receives instruction from certified teacher Mike Freeman and certified para-professional Shayna Schumann.

Special Ed School serves up to 100 students within an hours drive; many children referred by districts long after

Children diagnosed with cognitive, emotional and/or health problems often require a special education program to meet their needs. In these cases, it’s important to get referred to the right school—one that can integrate the child quickly into its program regardless of the time of year and provide appropriate care, instruction and attention.

One such resource is Parkland Preparatory Academy, a new therapeutic day school that recently opened in Streamwood at 900 S. Park Blvd. Licensed and regulated by the Illinois State Board of Education, the new school serves special education students from 12 to 21 years old who are referred from any public school district within an hour’s drive radius of Streamwood, including Arlington Heights, Barrington, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, St. Charles, Aurora and Naperville.

In the planning stages for nearly a year, Parkland Prep officially kicked off programming for the 2010-2011 school year.

“Our in-school activities emphasize Literacy, Transitional Skills (employment and independent living), and Emotional Self-Management” says Mike Hurst, Executive Director of the new school.

“School districts and parents love us because we have a roster of dedicated professionals who are creating a new model for therapeutic day schools—one that offers the least restrictive environment possible as well as a focus on student strengths. Our class sizes are approximately eight to 10 students per class. This means that the middle school and high school students we serve receive the personalized, one-on-one attention they need and deserve,” said Hurst, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with more than 20 years’ experience who has dedicated his career to helping children and families

“We have already seen significant gains in attendance rates, for example, with overall attendance school wide at above 90 percent,” he said. “Our students like coming to school at Parkland Prep because it is a real school, located in a well-equipped building, with a full size gym, a library and arts center, and a cafeteria, on a real campus that meets the needs of middle school and high school students.”

Parkland Preparatory Academy operates on a year-round schedule, incorporating fall and spring semesters plus an extended summer session. Teachers are specialized in their areas of education (ie, English, history, math, etc.), and the school is departmentalized, which enables students to rotate classrooms. Hurst said that these advantages allow Parkland Prep to normalize the educational experience for its special education students, many of whom have emotional, cognitive and/or health issues.

“Our goal is to guide students in progressing toward graduation, to help them become happier, more mature and successful, and to foster age-appropriate skills that can make them more self-sufficient,” he noted. “So aside from emphasizing academics, we also work to improve our students’ interpersonal relationship skills along with independent living and job strategies. This is a safe, positive and nurturing environment where students can practice effective ways of coping with whatever challenges they face.”

At Parkland Prep, “students are given a fresh start. We treat our students like young adults and empower them to have more control over their life situations. And we named our school ‘Parkland Preparatory’ for a reason. We’re not only preparing to be successful in school, but in life, too,” Hurst said.

For more information about Parkland Preparatory Academy or to learn if your special-needs student is eligible to attend, contact Mike Hurst at (630) 823-8323 or via e-mail at mike.hurst@parklandprep.com. To learn more, visit www.parklandprep.com.

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