Open House: Learn About a Self-Directed Education

Open House

Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

7:00 p.m.

1324 Lake Drive, Suite #1, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Have you been wondering what we do at Open Doors Center for Self-Directed Teens?  Come find out!

A community gathering at Open Doors.

Open House

Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

7:00 p.m.

1324 Lake Drive, Suite #1, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

We’ll give you a tour, answer your questions, and talk about the upcoming fall semester.  Are there some classes your teen would like to see offered?  Let’s see what we can do!

MVI_2995 (1)
Need to get your hands into your learning? Here’s our hands-on dissection class from last year.
Want to get outside and learn in the real world? Our Wild Edibles class last year foraged foods to share!
Skyrim Mod
If you learn from video games, we can support that, too!

See you at the Open House!

This post is part of our “Your Life – Your Learning!” series, designed to help the Grand Rapids community rethink teen learning, and brought to you with support from the Wege Foundation.

Fall 2014 at Open Doors Center for Self-Directed Teens

Dear Friends of Open Doors:

It’s been a busy summer here at Open Doors.  With your support, we’ve offered a fun summer art program to some very deserving teens and sparked their creativity. Thank you!

Maria Goldsworthy
Art with Nature — part of our Summer Program

We’ve also been gearing up for our Fall semester — it’s Not Back to School time!

We’ll have new incoming members this fall, so we’re lining up member-requested classes like Mechanical Autopsy and Duct Tape Art.  

Duct Tape Fun!

Our popular Critical Thinking and Feeling class is set to continue, with its emphasis on fun and non-violent communication, led by Adena Koslek.

Teen Instructor and Coach, Adena Koslek


We’ll also continue our Film Studies class, led by local director and film enthusiast Bruce W.

Bruce and kids on Brick
Bruce, with popcorn, watching the movie Brick with the teens last year.

We’re also offering new classes like Japanese, Political Science, and Hands-On Algebra.

Of course, Open Doors teens choose which classes they’ll take (and whether they’ll take any at all), so the list will change as the semester gets closer.

As you know, classes are only a small part of what we do here at Open Doors.  We look forward to checking in with each and every teen member.  We’ll listen to their goals and questions — we’ll dream with them as they consider how they want to learn at this moment — we’ll laugh as we brainstorm options and imagine possibilities together.  We can’t wait!

We are literally doing back flips. Well, one of us is.
game theory
So excited!

Will you help us spread the word?  Share this article, come by for one of our new yard signs, tell your friends with teens about Open Doors, or join our team of volunteers — we’d love to have you involved!

Enjoy the rest of your summer ~

Amy Carpenter Leugs, Outreach Director

Amy and tree
Amy Carpenter Leugs

“Better than a Report Card” — One Parent’s Open Doors Story

Dear Open Doors;

I am in awe of the tremendous growth I have seen in my son Tristan after his first year at Open Doors. He started the year very reserved and hesitant to get involved, which is true to his public persona. (Or at least it was!)

He tended to avoid situations that could potentially be embarrassing. He spent the first semester asking to be picked up immediately after his Biology class and wanted absolutely nothing to do with any activity in which he might feel the need to “share” anything – verbally or otherwise. He politely refused to have his picture taken and added to the website.

Though he didn’t want to share most pictures, Tristan did give us permission to share this photo of his hands chopping dandelion roots in the Wild Edibles class.

The staff and members of Open Doors respected these things completely. (I am confident a school would have seen this as a “problem” to address.) Rebecca and Adena did a great job of offering him ways to participate and contribute individually – painting a much needed sign, helping to move things, inviting him to meetings about fracking, etc – which gave him the space he needed to “warm up” while still feeling that he was vital to the center.

Ever so slowly, he started asking to be picked up later and later. He stayed to hang out and explore other classes. He chattered about film studies and foraging. He told me about sharing his theory of fluctuations in the stock market being related to fears of the “blood moon” with his finance class. He loved to tell me about conversations he had with the other members about their hobbies.

By the end of the year, my reserved kiddo was cracking jokes and showing off his juggling and hula-hooping skills at the end of year celebration in front of all of the members and their families. My heart sang that night.

two hula hoops
Crazy for hula hoops!

His juggling blew us all away.  We also like the Grateful Dead shirt and the sunglasses.

As a parent, you want your child to shine to the world as much as they do when no one is watching; to be their true selves, no matter the situation. I am positive that if it were not for the respect and room to grow given by everyone at Open Doors, the world would never know the funny, bright and confident Tristan that I do. And that would be a shame.

A special thank you, Open Doors, for the letter you sent at the end of the year. Your insights about Tristan were spot-on and it made me feel awesome to see that you really know him and are acutely aware of his needs. It was so much better than a report card.

Sincerely,  Danielle Bodziak

Tristan and his chair
Tristan built this in a summer woodworking class that we heard about and shared with his family. Awesome!