Kansas City-based elementary school Dreams KC will launch its first pilot program this month, but don’t expect the same old classroom model
“Dreams is a whole child model,” explained Catina Taylor, founder of Dreams KC. “What that means is we don’t focus on them from the neck up, we develop their civic, personal, professional and entrepreneurial competencies. We do this through the components of project-based learning, parent engagement and open, flexible learning spaces.
In addition to project-based learning experiences, Dreams KC students will have the opportunity to learn foreign language, explore their identity through music and dance, practice self-regulation through yoga and try organic juices and food.
The influence of a healthy body and spirit is paramount, Taylor said. She chose to include yoga in the schools as a way to teach students self-discipline and reflection at a young age, so they don’t initially freak out when things go wrong.
“When we talk about discipline issues, often times it’s that children don’t know how to express themselves,” Taylor said. “They don’t know how to relax and breathe so they know how to not spaz out when they get upset. Yoga is one of the tools we will use to begin teaching those lessons at a young age, that impacts their overall health.”
With 17 years of education experience under her belt, Taylor founded Dreams KC in 2015 after several years of mulling over how the education system could improve.
“The main problem is the lack of engagement of our students,” Taylor said. “Either learning is not relevant to them (the students), they don’t see themselves in what they’re learning, or they cannot connect it to their lives. Our schools are lacking in cultural competency, and students fight against the educational process. … Dreams seeks to change that.”
In partnership with Kansas City Parks and Recreation, the eight-week pilot program will begin on April 10 and will welcome ten students, all age 5. Most of these students turned 5 recently and will enter Kindergarten in Fall 2017. Taylor said she is targeting students in the urban core specifically, but is open to accepting any student.
Located at the Southeast Community Center, Taylor says the school is smack dab in the middle of the metro, with easy access to public transportation. She hopes that Dreams KC will bring opportunity to students of all backgrounds.
For the pilot, Taylor will personally facilitate the ten-student classroom and hire an additional teacher and student teacher. She added that the eight-week session will give her the insight she needs to move forward toward the Dreams KC launch, which she hopes will open in 2019.
Taylor said she is ecstatic for her dream of Dreams to come to life. With the goal to restore hopes and dreams to a generation, she believes the charter school will do just that.
“Anytime we are cultivating healthy whole children, we are actually cultivating healthy whole families,” Taylor said. “When you have healthy whole families, you have a larger healthy and whole community. It expands to our city, state and nation. We want to assist students and families in becoming as productive as they can be.”
The public is invited to tour the space via an open house on Friday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m.