Private specialized schools move to shared space in Woodlawn

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Education environments play a significant role in a child's learning ability, especially for those with learning, behavioral and psychological disabilities.

Several months ago two private specialized schools, Hyde Park Day School and Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, moved to a 75,000 square-foot facility customized for their student population and needs.

Located in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood, the schools share the same campus but with different entrances.

Hyde Park Day School is a full-day program designed for students from ages 6-15 with moderate to severe learning disabilities.

"The spaces are designed around our teachable groups, which for us is five students with one teacher," said Casey Crnich, the school's director. "Many of our students come to us with auditory processing or visual processing deficits. All of our spaces are meant to maximize signal to noise."

"If they have difficulty navigating because of executive functioning deficits or visual processing deficits, they don't need classroom numbers, they just need to know what color classrooms they are going to," Crnich said. "There are visual cues throughout the building to help kids find their way."

On the other side of campus is the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School. It offers both day and residential programs.

"Our students generally come to use because they have been in other programs where it has been determined that their needs were too great," said Diana Kon, the school's co-executive director. "Our yellow doors are really symbols of safety."

"We were really able to design spaces that were able to support learning that takes place at the school and were really able to make decisions about every single corner and every single structure and every single color," Kon said.

"We are really able to bring in much more instructional type technology, and to be able to integrate that much more in the classroom," Kon said.

Even though they service different disabilities, they share some resources like the art studio and gym.

"We were able to really create a campus that maximized the resources of both schools," Crnich said.

Hyde Park Day School opened in March and Sonia Shankman School opened a few weeks ago. For more information visit or
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