It was certainly disappointing for teachers and students at Da Vinci Academy in Elgin to find out last year that the school would close for good at the end of the 2016 school year.

Rather than despair, three teachers at the academy got together and determined they could parlay their vision and several years of experience with gifted students into another school.

Elizabeth Blaetz, Shannon Hub and Stacey Spears put that enthusiasm to work -- a lot of it -- in time to open Vanguard Gifted Academy in Batavia.

The school opened in late August, after months of planning and determining a location. It ended up in a former bank location at 1078 E. Wilson St., near Fermilab, where it also has a partnership with the Lederman Science Education Center.

"Elizabeth Blaetz felt there was a better way to serve children's learning needs and prepare them for their futures than through the traditional school model," Spears, the arts specialist teacher at the school, said of her colleague. "Her vision included the use of technology to pinpoint the skill development level of each student and then teach all students with a common skill readiness regardless of age in small groups."

This approach fosters group learning among academic peers and collaboration during extended problem-based learning sessions, Spears added.

Family members and the general public can see the results of this approach during Showcase Nights held every two months at the school. On those nights, students explain projects through formal or informal presentations.

The teachers also realized that this type of learning does not fit into traditional 30-minute periods, so the school day is shaped by three "extended modules" that stress knowledge development, problem-based collaboration, and a session called "Community Time" in which students plan recreational activities supported by art.

"We didn't want to do anything fly-by-night, so it took us a little longer to get the incorporation and everything else into place," Spears said.

Ultimately, Spears believes the founding teachers "are uniquely suited" to serve the needs of these gifted children.

That's wicked good:

With all of us being in the mood for Halloween this week, you know I had to have something that reflected my fondness for this holiday. Kids can't have all of the fun, right?

So it is that I declare the "Wicked Chocolate" doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts to be insanely delicious.

Those carefree days:

In making my way through the recent antique toy and doll show at the Kane County Fairgrounds, I wondered what attracted such a huge crowd to this event.

It is one of my favorite events to wander around at, so it must be that it just sends you back to those carefree days when the most important things in the world were your toys.

And it works for all ages. There is enough Star Wars, Batman, G.I. Joe and Matchbox cars stuff to satisfy anyone's desire for those types of collections.

But here's what caught my eye: A Ralph Kramden bus driver costume, with Jackie Gleason on the box, saying, "Mmmm … that's a good toy." Yes, you have to know "The Honeymooners" to realize how funny that is.

A Mortimer Snerd doll and Emmett Kelly doll also surfaced, taking you back to the 1940s and '50s.

And an even more current set of dolls -- Don Draper and Joan Holloway of "Mad Men" were also on display.

It's a great trip down memory lane. The next show is April 22, 2018, if you want to mark your calendar.

Shoe repair moves:

Earlier this year, I wrote about how we are lucky to still have some good, old-fashioned shoe repair businesses in our towns.

Those who take their shoes to these types of places might want to make note of this.

The Geneva Shoe Repair store at 15 N. Fourth St. is moving this month to 1150 N. Fifth Ave. (Route 25) on the east side of St. Charles.

dheun@sbcglobal.net