Elgin's Marklund Day School fills its first year with lessons, outings and growth
Since 9-year-old Austin began attending Marklund Day School in Elgin this past summer, he has flourished.
"He is completely thriving," said Tina Kowalczyk, his mother. "It's amazing how well he is doing."
Austin is a fourth-grader at the non-public school, which serves students who have multiple disabilities and complex medical needs.
The school, which has two classrooms within the Marklund Wasmond Center at 1435 Summit St., in Elgin, is an extension of the Marklund Day School located in Bloomingdale.
Plans for school in Elgin began shortly after the 2016 merger of Marklund and Little Angels -- now called the Marklund Wasmond Center.
Since the school opened one year ago, it has seen rapid growth. Enrollment has grown from two students to 11.
"It was important to remove a barrier -- distance -- so children who are residents at the Wasmond Center, as well as students from the surrounding area, can have the educational opportunity they are entitled to," said Paula Bodzioch, director of education.
Austin, a resident of the Wasmond Center, has benefitted from Marklund's multisensory instruction, a teaching approach that involves students' senses of sight, hearing and touch. This technique transforms lessons for students, and allows them to learn in a new, exciting way.
The school offers other services: smart technology, including iPads, accessible computers, Smartboards, and online curriculum; and a dedicated team of teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, therapists, who work together to meet students' therapeutic, academic and medical needs.
Marklund provides physical therapy services, with the use of mats, wedges, bolsters, foam pads, standers, and other equipment to reposition students, and help them feel more comfortable while out of their wheelchairs.
Students also have regular community outings to the library, museums, zoos, police station, fire station, pumpkin farm, nature center and other destinations.
"Our students benefit greatly from outings," said Terry Wilkinson, teacher. "They practice the skills they learn in school, such as choice making and communicating greetings, while exploring their community and meeting new people."
Tina cites Marklund's small student-to-teacher ratio, as well as caring teachers and staff, in helping her son thrive. "We appreciate Marklund Day School immensely," she said. "They do an amazing job. It is nice to see him smiling and laughing at school."
"Austin has added so much joy and personality to our little group," said Jennifer Riley, Austin's teacher. "We have seen him grow to recognize his new teachers and peers and to learn the school routine. With Austin being such a social boy, we are look forward to helping him develop his communication skills, as well as giving him opportunities to learn through socializing with peers and staff."
Not only do the medically fragile residents benefit from having the school on site, but children from the community do as well.
"Decreasing the commute for medically fragile students puts parents at ease," Bodzioch said. "It also is beneficial for the student."
"We are very gratified to be able to serve more students … to enrich their lives and expose them to an academic experience," Bodzioch said. "It brings a smile to students' faces. It brings a smile to mine, too."
The Marklund Day School in Bloomingdale also offers a multi-needs program, as well as a life skills program for students with autism and other disabilities. Information on the school can be found at www.marklund.org/school.