Transition Students Thrive at Noorthoek Academy

Building Independence and Life Skills with Erin Gauthier

Transition Students Thrive at Noorthoek Academy

Students from the Forest Hills Public Schools Transition Center are embarking on a transformative journey at Noorthoek Academy, enriching their educational experience and empowering their futures.

Noorthoek Academy, a non-profit organization that partners with Grand Rapids Community College, is dedicated to providing college experiences tailored to individuals with special needs. The academy offers a diverse curriculum spanning liberal arts, vocational training, and life skills courses. Beyond academics, Noorthoek fosters a supportive community where students can thrive socially and emotionally, ensuring they develop essential skills for independent living and meaningful employment.

For young adults with special needs, the college experience at Noorthoek is nothing short of life-changing. It provides them with opportunities to explore their interests, develop talents, and cultivate lifelong friendships in an environment that celebrates their unique abilities. Through personalized support and innovative programming, Noorthoek empowers its students to pursue their dreams and lead fulfilling lives.

Erin Gauthier, a dedicated teacher at the Forest Hills Transition Center, has been instrumental in facilitating this partnership. Inspired by her own experience as a peer in the peer-to-peer program growing up, Gauthier recognized the immense value of providing post-secondary opportunities for students with special needs. Because of her passion for supporting this population of students and providing them with equal opportunities, Erin was inspired to write a grant request to the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation to fund the cost of tuition for her students to attend the Noorthoek Academy. She shares, "A student of mine who attended actually told me about the program, and we thought it would be a great chance for our students to explore other programs and be a part of their community."

In the case of the Transition Center students attending Noorthoek Academy, the Foundation's grant of $2,500 has opened doors to new opportunities and learning. This grant is part of the Foundation's broader commitment to investing in programs that empower students to reach their full potential. Annually, the Foundation supports over $300,000 in grants, scholarships, and initiatives aimed at enriching the educational landscape of the Forest Hills community.

By collaborating with institutions like Noorthoek Academy and with the immense support of the Forest Hills Public Schools Community, students with special needs in the FHPS district are afforded the chance to thrive beyond high school. This collaborative effort not only transforms individual lives but also fosters a more inclusive and equitable society for all. Erin Gauthier's dedication exemplifies the profound impact a passionate teacher can have in ensuring every student receives the support and opportunities they deserve.

The Foundation's Mission

In partnership with our community, the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation is committed to raising funds and awareness to support all learners and educators within the Forest Hills Public School District.

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