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Learning & Growing

Ferst School StudentThere was a time when Tracy was being called often to her son's school to pick him up because the staff didn't know what to do with him.

Those calls stopped when Tracy enrolled her son, Christian, at Ferst School.

"The change is amazing," she says. "Christian has gone from doing virtually no academic work at his old school to now doing multiplication and beginning algebra. He's also reading at a much higher level."

For almost 30 years, Anixter Center's Stuart G. Ferst School has provided families with children with disabilities an alternative to a traditional public school setting. This small, highly individualized school is designed for students age 6 to 21 with physical disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, autism, cognitive disabilities and traumatic brain injuries.

Located on Chicago's north side, the school draws students from across the city and suburbs, including as far away as Waukegan. All students must be referred by their school districts.

Ferst School Playground"Every person on staff here, whether a teacher, a therapist or a support person, has one goal and that is to help each student learn and grow to the best of their abilities," says Indira Buzaljko, Ferst School principal.

"Because we have a low student to teacher ratio and specialized services, I believe we have ways to help our students that traditional schools don't always have."

All classrooms at Ferst School are staffed with special education teachers, specialized teaching assistants and paraprofessionals. Also on staff are a social worker, occupational therapist and nurse, and they are joined by a contractual physical therapist and speech therapist.

The school has an art room, several therapy rooms, a large accessible playground and a gym. But the learning extends beyond the school's walls. The ultimate goal is for every student to be successful in their communities. So outings are scheduled throughout the year to businesses and various local destinations, including Navy Pier, the theater and parks.

These outings extend what students are learning in the classroom. They also help students become more comfortable in and knowledge about their communities. In addition, older students can engage in authentic employment opportunities through several programs, such as our recycling services.

See Ferst School for yourself—call 773-761-4651 to schedule a tour.



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