School Bulletin: Kenosha students write memoirs and make memories

School Bulletin: Kenosha students write memoirs and make memories

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A small class of Kenosha area students have written memoirs. No, not their own. These students may be a little too young for that, but Bill Sneeberger, a teacher at Open Wings Community Learning, says these are precious documents.

"[They're] preserving stories that otherwise would have been lost, and perhaps, preserving them for generations."

Opens Wings, a private school specializing in working with neurodivergent children, partnered with Library Terrace Assisted Living on the memoir writing project. Sneeberger says each student was paired up with a resident, interviewed them at least twice, wrote up mini memoirs and presented them to their partners. The teacher says this project helped the kids' writing skills, but they also learned about history and geography.

"It was a revelation to our students to hear these stories," Sneeberger says. "This might sound like early settlers in America to our students, but when you hear this person telling you, you realize wow not that long ago, life was really different."

Dr. Kim Hufferd-Ackles, the founder of Open Wings, says the memoirs turned out to be incredible. She also says partnerships, like with the residents and staff at Library Terrace, really help the students thrive and become part of their communities.

"They struggle a lot in childhood, and they wear their labels on their forehead," Hufferd-Ackles says. "They're known more for their deficits, but we really know our students well. We celebrate their strengths. We work with their strengths."

Since the school opened in 2012, its grown from serving five students to 50. The students are all in mixed-age classes, so the youngest child at age five will interact with the older teens. Some might be reading at different levels or mastering separate math subjects, but Hufferd-Ackles says at the end of the day, they all still get to enjoy childhood.

"We have learners who are pulling one another along, and we have students who are more social pulling along students who are less social," Hufferd-Ackles says. "They just see each other as kids."

Open Wings is hosting a special gala at UW-Parkside on Saturday, Feb. 18. Hufferd-Ackles says this annual fundraiser serves as a significant boost to the school's budget, but it also helps offset the tuition costs for families. For ticket information and to learn more about Open Wings, CLICK HERE.

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