March 30, 2021
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Nestled between a thicket of trees in a small alcove just off the edge of Lake Springfield, dozens of children swing on a playground, splash in an indoor pool, and eat their lunch inside a quiet compound that serves as their schoolyard and, for some, their home away from home.
There are no school bells to signal the start of the day or the end of class. Instead, birds chirp from a distance in the trees surrounding the peaceful 40,000 square foot facility. Many of the walls are painted light blue, accented with calm pastel colors.
“The sensory calm of this place is amazing,” Dawn Williams said.
She left the crowded, noisy atmosphere of a classroom after 32 years to teach at the Hope Learning Academy in 2019.
“My heart is in it,” she said.