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  • Writer's pictureLior Bendat

Asher Day Newsletter MAY 2024 - 2 of 2


 

Update on Status

Looking for Space - Years 1 to 3

We are actively seeking approximately 5,000 sq. ft. as an initial space to launch the school.   Our children are very sensitive and need to be in a joyful environment.  Our facility will offer abundant natural light and have access to the outdoors.  Ideally, it will have an onsite playground as well as open space for field activities.   Unfortunately, the commercial market in the Triangle is very limited - with most space being multitenant flex, office, and retail.  We are exploring options like religious facilities that can lease out excess space. 

 

We expect to reach capacity (approximately 50 students) very quickly and will need to expand to a larger facility by the end of the second or third year.  Throughout this period, we will be actively looking for a permanent home for Asher that can support over 300 students.


Growth and Future Stages

Initially, we plan to enroll children in the age range of third through fifth grades.   

As space allows, we will grow a class per year until the eighth grade.  We will eventually enroll kindergarten through second grade-aged students.

 

We understand that we may not be able to adequately serve every student given the vastness of the autism spectrum.  We hope that with time, we will be able to open additional facilities to accommodate children who need extra support.


Our Partners & Supporters

Asher Day has partnered with Bennett Day School (www.bennettday.org), a project-based learning (PBL) school serving nearly 400 students in grades PreK-12 based in the heart of Chicago.  Bennett was established in 2010 by my friend, Cameron Smith, and has blossomed into an extraordinary school, named one of the most innovative private schools in the entire country while serving capable and curious children from over 55 zip codes. And while the mission of Asher Day is distinct from that at Bennett, Asher joined the Bennett Labs Collaborative to license PBL curriculum from Bennett to help us deliver our own program and for divergent neurotypes to prosper at Asher. The Bennett team has  been consulting on the operational aspects associated with launching our school in its early stages and then in its ongoing administration and operations.  The Bennett team will be visiting to meet with the founding team and prospective parents.  Stay tuned!


Educational Philosophy & Curriculum

Project-Based Learning- Reggio Amelia

What is project-based learning, and why is it the most effective way to teach children of all neurotypes? 

 

Simply put, we master skills by applying them to real life - not through rote memorization.  The process is intuitive and natural to us; we do it all the time.  Asher Day will be implementing the Bennett Day School model, which is explained in detail in the following link: https://bennettday.org/academics/project-based-learning/ .


Ability-Based Grouping

Children will be grouped by subject-matter ability rather than by age-based grade levels, allowing us to meet their specific needs at any given time.  Groups will be reassessed after each project-based learning period.  Individual support and accommodations will also be offered.  At times, we will pair students with varying degrees of ability so that peers can help each other learn, thereby fostering a sense of community and mutual support.

Calming Space and the Outdoors

Sensory and calm-down areas will be integrated to allow children to regulate.  Outdoor space and calming, natural scenery will be fundamental aspects of life at Asher Day.  We hope, with time, to have a permanent location with a small animal farm, walking paths, and cement a connection with nature and sustainability.

Educational Staffing

Head of School

We are pleased to announce that, after extensive searching, we have found a head of school for our launch.  Our head of school, Margaret, has many years of experience in administration and education at one of Atlanta’s premier exceptional children-based schools.  More details will be provided as we get closer to our goal.


Educators

We have had several conversations with gifted teachers and EC educators who are struggling with their school system and are ready for a change.  While most of these individuals are in the public school system, private school teachers have also expressed interest.  We will be actively recruiting next year for our founding staff and doing so on a consistent basis as we grow. 

OT and Speech Specialists

We are blessed to have the support of several autism researchers, OT experts, and truly gifted speech therapists.  We aim to integrate a way to support our students with onsite therapies and hope to establish agreements with providers that can come onsite. 


Structure

Asher Day School PBC is a public benefit corporation that will serve as the fiscal, operational, fundraising, and back office administrator.  It will have oversight of the 501c3 entity which consists of the school, staff, and tuition endowment funds.


Goals

Our medium-to-long-term goal is to start one school and develop it into a thriving K-8 institution within a permanent, custom-built facility in the Triangle.  We will then consider whether an upper school is warranted or if we act as a feeder school to other institutions.  In the long run, we hope to establish new schools throughout the Triangle.


Asks

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask for your help in the following ways. You can reach me directly at lior@asherday.org


Space - If you have any leads on leasable space or even suitable structures for sale of approximately 5000 sq. ft. in the Triangle area, please get in touch. 


Staffing – We are always looking for educators who will be ready to join the team when the time comes.

 

Prospective Families – We are accumulating a list of potential founding families.  Please let other families know about Asher and its objectives. I'd be happy to speak with you about our journey together.


Fundraising – We’re looking to raise money to get Asher off the ground.  More details will be disseminated after the non-profit entity has been established.  In the meantime, I would love to speak with anyone who has an interest in making a future contribution to the school or an investment in the public benefit corporation, whose ultimate purpose is to start and manage multiple autism spectrum-focused schools throughout the Triangle and beyond.


Thank You!

Thank you, dear reader, for making it through this first newsletter.  I hope I have sparked your interest and support.  Please SHARE this newsletter with whomever you can.  Spread the word!

 

Last, I want to thank some of the heroes who have dedicated their lives to helping children on the spectrum as well as those who have provided advice, encouragement, and support thus far.  THANK YOU Jessie Mewshaw, Jessica Meyers, Sam Brandsen, Jenna Meehan, Jenny Eigenrauch, Katie Reily, and Linda McDonough!!!

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