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Microschool Success Story: Christina Sullivan

"Kids do well if they can."


Christina Sullivan, Microschool Owner

We’d love to hear your success story. How did you get started?


Since 1998, I have dedicated my work to supporting children and adolescents facing social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. In 2004, my journey expanded to include working specifically with children and adolescents on the autism spectrum. With experience in the public school system, community mental health, and private practice, I witnessed firsthand the limited understanding mental health professionals had about autism spectrum disorders.

It was during this time that my own son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 30 months, which ignited a profound desire within me to learn everything I could about the condition. My motivation stemmed not only from a desire to help my son but also to contribute to the well-being of others with autism spectrum disorders from a mental health perspective.


While working within the school system and in private practice, I noticed a concerning trend: as children reached upper elementary school and middle school, many of them became increasingly anxious and depressed. As a parent, I worried about the potential impact on my own son, who was happy and sociable at that time.


When my son was the 5th grade, I made a bold decision: I resolved to start a school. It may have seemed like a crazy idea, perhaps fueled by a touch of grandiosity.


However, that same year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which forced me to put any plans on hold as I focused on my treatment and recovery. Once I regained my health, and with my son entering 6th grade, I made the decision to homeschool him.


It was during this homeschooling journey that I had the pleasure of meeting Raquel Farrell-Kirk, an art therapist and homeschooling parent. Our connection was instant, and together, we embarked on a mission to create Evolve Learning Community. In January 2016, our vision became a reality as we opened our doors.


Challenges


Building Evolve Learning Community has been a challenging endeavor. Spreading awareness about our program and the unique approach we offer has proven to be an uphill battle. Homeschooling, in itself, often carries misconceptions and uncertainty. With no established laws or guidelines to follow, we had to forge our own path, learning and adapting as we went along.


Despite the challenges, our dedication and passion for empowering children and adolescents remain unwavering. We are committed to creating a supportive learning environment where students can thrive academically, emotionally, and socially. Our aim is to provide holistic education that nurtures the whole individual and celebrates their unique strengths and abilities.


As we continue to grow, we strive to reach more families in need, extending our reach to support individuals on their educational and mental health journeys. Evolve Learning Community is a testament to our belief that with the right approach and unwavering determination, we can make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.


Raising Awareness of our Existence


One of the significant challenges we face in expanding our non-traditional learning community is effective marketing and raising awareness of our existence. Since our inception, several other non-traditional models have emerged, which is a positive development for the micro school landscape. The availability of diverse options is fantastic because every student is unique, and finding the right learning environment is paramount. However, larger institutions often have significantly larger marketing budgets, giving them a competitive advantage in visibility, particularly on platforms like Google when parents are searching for programs.


It is challenging to overcome the deeply ingrained belief in the superiority of traditional schooling that many parents have been indoctrinated with.



Presenting our program model, facilitated by therapists and educators who possess a deep understanding of various diagnoses (such as autism, ADHD, anxiety, giftedness, mild learning differences, twice exceptionality), requires a paradigm shift for parents. Our model embraces elements of homeschooling, Montessori, unschooling, and more to create a holistic approach that directly addresses the unique needs associated with these diagnoses. However, it can be difficult for parents to comprehend that their children can receive a high-quality education through our model, even if it doesn't conform to traditional expectations.


Advice for New Microschools


My advice to a new microschool or non-traditional education program owner is to have confidence in your approach, focus on the students you serve best, be open to learning and pivoting, and embrace the ever-changing landscape of education. By staying true to your mission and being responsive to the needs of your students, you will create a thriving and impactful educational environment.


Shoutouts and Thank you


I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation and give special recognition to the incredible parents who have placed their trust in our program and entrusted us with the education and growth of their remarkable and talented children. Your belief in us has been invaluable in the development and expansion of our program.


Favorite phrase or motto to live by


Kids do well if they can.




About Christina


Christina Sullivan, LCSW

ADHD Certified Clinical Services Professional

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Qualified Supervisor

Yoga Teacher

Clinical Director



How to find Evolve Learning Community

Location: South Florida, 4758 W. Commercial Blvd.Tamarac, FL 33319

(954)-440-2483


Instagram: @evolvelearningcommunity



Networking

LinkedIn Group - Microschool Florida www.microschoolflorida.com



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