Connections Day School (CDS) is a private therapeutic day school, founded in 1998. We serve children and adolescents, ages 8-21, primarily from Lake County who, because of significant special education needs (ED, BD, LD, OHI, AUT & CD), require an alternative school program that is both educational and therapeutic. By utilizing therapeutic, educational, family and community connections, CDS is able to promote academic achievement, social/emotional well-being and personal growth.

The Staff Members at CDS employ a variety of methods to help students make academic progress, and develop and/or improve their coping, problem-solving and social skills. By utilizing a combination of respect, humor, empathy, and kindness balanced with firmness (i.e., maintaining high expectations and ensuring that students adhere to rules, boundaries and limitations), Staff Members are able to establish and maintain supportive, nurturing relationships with our students. In turn, these relationships can help our students be more open to learning the life skills required for long-term success.

The students engage in an academically challenging curriculum emphasizing group instruction and hands-on activities. The Clinical/Therapeutic Staff at CDS utilize a cognitive-behavioral/problem-solving approach as well as psychodynamic, family-systems and narrative principles. In addition, the Lakota-Sioux Circle of Courage – which teaches the value of belonging, independence, generosity and mastery – is employed to help students develop these essential life skills. This multi-faceted approach works to assist the students in: overcoming issues at hand; practicing more successful behavioral alternatives; and exploring ways to re-write their negative life stories.

The goal is to work with students to build on their strengths and gifts, and be allies with them in their “fight” against the challenges and obstacles that get in the way of their success. The environment is based on a positive, nurturing model, where natural, logical consequences for behaviors are frequently utilized. CDS avoids using restrictive and/or punitive methods of behavioral management and does not have a time-out room. Therapeutic holding (restraint) is only employed as a last resort, when a student is presenting as a danger to him/herself or others.

Ms. Betty Lindquist and Dr. John Schuler, the founders of our program, chose to base the mission of CDS on philosophical principles similar to those held at Counseling Connections – their multi-disciplinary group practice which specializes in the therapeutic needs of children, adolescents and families. The professionals at Counseling Connections have worked closely with the schools, courts and social service agencies of Lake and Northern Cook Counties since 1982.

CDS offers a comprehensive array of support services, including:

  • Small Group and Individualized Academic Instruction
  • Individual, Group, Family & Milieu Therapy and Crisis Intervention
  • Psychiatric Consultation and Evaluation
  • Individual and Group Art Therapy
  • Substance Abuse Evaluation and Individual & Group Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy and Speech & Language Evaluations and Services
  • Social/Emotional, Problem-Solving & Coping Skill Building
  • A Comprehensive Behavioral Management Program
  • Daily School Nurse Services
  • Transition & Post-Graduation Preparation