Editor’s note: This story is part of the 2012 Winter Education and Enrichment Guide, a special advertising section produced by Wednesday Journal and Forest Park Review. Click here to view the entire 2012 Winter Education Guide.

At different times throughout the school day at Grace Lutheran School, 7300 Division in River Forest, groups of three or four children gather up their books, pencils, and notebooks, leave their regular classroom, and walk through the school commons area to see Mrs. O’Connor. They come to a smaller, quieter classroom, with fewer distractions, where they feel welcome and can get down to the business of learning.

Maureen O’Connor is Grace’s special education coordinator. Her job is to make sure that students who struggle in the classroom receive the support they need to succeed and feel confident and hopeful about learning.

Children whose reading skills lag behind those of their peers may begin working in a small group setting with Mrs. O’Connor at the beginning of first grade. “We work very hard to help students learn to read in first, second and third grade,” reports Mrs. O’Connor. “We don’t wait. Most are back to regular reading classes with their peers by fourth or fifth grade.”

Grace School’s attention to individual needs is also apparent in the junior high. Students who are ready for an accelerated math curriculum study ninth-grade algebra as eighth graders. Junior high students who do not yet have the abstract thinking skills necessary for algebra have other options. A new language arts curriculum in grades 6-8 offers many choices for students with different learning styles, while it prepares them for the demands of reading and writing in tough high school classes.

Grace School offers preschool and kindergarten classes for children age three, four and five, as well as classes for grades one through eight. The current enrollment is 237 students, with most classes averaging between 20 and 24 children. Sports, art, music and drama round out the academic program. After-school care is available, as well as a variety of after-school enrichment classes.

Grace School nurtures its students’ faith and character development as well as their academic achievement. It shares the Grace congregation’s mission, “to bring in, build up and send out disciples for Jesus Christ.”

Families are invited to visit during the Early Childhood Open House on Jan. 20, noon-1:00 p.m., or the All-School Open House, Feb. 7, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Visit www.graceriverforest.org, or call 708-366-6900 for more information or to arrange a tour of the school.

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