“Hyde Park Day School serves children of average-to-superior intelligence with learning disabilities,” explains Dr. Casey Crnich, HPDS’s Executive Director. “In addition to serving a very specific population, we are somewhat unique in that we are a transition school. We give our students the tools and strategies they need to compensate for their learning disabilities, then work toward transitioning them back to a school in their home community.”
Founded in Hyde Park in 2000, with an additional campus added in Northfield in 2004, the organization is excited to announce a third campus located in Lemont, Illinois, slated to open its doors this August. This expansion is a testament to the level of excellence the school continues to demonstrate, the devotion of current and former parents, community support, and the natural evolution of its strategic plan to serve more children with learning disabilities.
One of its largest fundraising efforts is the school’s Annual Gala, which has been held for the past decade. This spring event brings together the school community in support of the Bright Futures Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid to students whose family means would otherwise not allow them to access the school’s specialized services.
“We believe that financial ability should not prohibit bright students with learning disabilities the opportunity to receive an innovative and comprehensive education. HPDS’s Bright Futures Scholarship Fund provides financial assistance to children in order to attend our school. Nearly one-third of our students receive some type of financial assistance to attend Hyde Park Day School. Since its beginning in 2004, the Bright Futures Scholarship Fund has awarded over $3.15 million dollars to approximately 222 students,” says Crnich, adding, “Our goal for this year’s Gala is to achieve a net profit of $225,000.”
For Gala co-chairs, Katie Burnside and Vanya Weglarz, both current HPDS parents, the mission is understandably personal. “Our 11-year-old daughter is a sixth grader at HPDS in Hyde Park. This is her second year at the school and she is thriving,” shares Weglarz. “The teachers are experts in teaching to the style of each child. They also have a unique way of helping your child understand what their challenges are and how to advocate for themselves.”
She continues: “I feel so fortunate to have a school like this in the Chicago area, and when I was asked to co-chair the Gala this year, I was very excited to help give back to this wonderful school. I feel that it is imperative that all children who are in need of this type of education have access to it—the Bright Futures Scholarship Fund allows for this. It is wonderful to be involved and give back to something that has given so much to me and my family.”
Burnside echoes this: “My oldest daughter has learning disabilities, and we spent the first three years of her primary education looking for the right educational fit for her. I can confidently say that what Hyde Park Day School (Northfield campus) offers for children with learning disabilities is life-changing. My daughter has gained confidence and is constantly learning and growing. “
“I don’t think that I’m alone when it comes to parents who’ve faced challenges in traditional settings for kids with learning differences. We count ourselves so fortunate to have found a miracle school such as this one and to have been blessed with the staff and leadership that work there. There is no other organization that I’d rather lend my time to and raise money for.”
The two hard-working chairs shared the details for this year’s much-anticipated event on Friday, May 18: “This year’s Gala will take place at the newly-renovated Theater on the Lake in Lincoln Park. This exciting location boasts views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. A nautical theme seemed like a natural choice! Weather permitting, guests will have access to a lakefront patio where they can enjoy a cocktail and take in the amazing views—there is no other space in the city quite like this one.”
Guests can expect a sit-down dinner with auction items in keeping with the nautical waterfront theme, including a one-week stay at a lakefront home in Union Pier, a sunset cruise for six on a motor yacht on Lake Michigan, and other amazing travel packages.
Ticket prices range from $225 for individual tickets to $5,000 for Platinum Table of 10. For more information, visit hydeparkday.org.