Iris Nosek graduated from 5th grade at The Children’s School in 2005 before there was a middle school. Nonetheless, those early years spent at TCS made a huge impact!
“One of my best memories from TCS was our ‘Box Park City’ in Kindergarten. We took a bunch of cardboard boxes and made houses, stores, and a whole town. Everybody had a storefront, and I ran the art shop. I was able to feel really independent and responsible and create the art shop how I wanted it to be.”
“Another one of my favorites was the Titanic project. We reenacted the story of the Titanic, and all had roles as we learned about its history while acting it out. But in our version, we were all rescued and none of us died.”
“I still keep in touch with pretty much everybody from my class, and went to high school with a lot of them,” says Iris, who went to Brooks Middle School and then Oak Park River Forest High School.
“My transition to middle school was a little awkward because I didn’t know anybody. But I felt pretty confident in my individuality – TCS taught me to be confident in myself. A lot of middle-schoolers have that sense of ‘I don’t belong,’ but I found my niche pretty well. I’ve been pretty attached to art from an early age, so as long as I have art, I have a spot to fit in.”
In high school, Iris loved wheel throwing and pottery, joined the sign language club and sustained a continuing interest in psychology and science.
In both middle school and high school, Iris was involved in Best Buddies, an international organization that pairs students with special needs and typically developing peers to create lasting friendships and disability advocacy. In high school they started working as a caregiver for families they met in best buddies, offering respite care. Now in college near Seattle, they work at an Easter seals camp with special needs kids.
Iris is currently a freshman at the University of Puget Sound. “One of the benefits of my time at TCS is that I’m excited about learning. For example, I just got my list of classes for next semester and I can’t wait to study those topics!”
Another benefit from TCS is the ability to see things form a wider perspective: “Like in psychology we talk about the bio-psycho-social aspects of things. From my time at TCS, I’m able to see the humanities aspect, the science aspect, the personal aspect of any concept presented to me. The reason I’m good at this is that at TCS we’d take a subject and learn every single thing about it. Our project topic became how we learned math, how we learned history, and how we learned science. That was super exciting.”
“Another advantage is I feel I can communicate my needs and am pretty good at self-advocacy. I know how I learn best and am able to trust adults with that. I grew up from a very early age able to speak up with adults and explain what I need,” says Iris. “I see people who are too scared to ask for help, but I say ‘teachers want to help you, that’s what they are there for.’”
Iris is currently studying psychology and art and wants to be an occupational therapist. I’ve always been around or working with people with special needs. Occupational therapy is a good balance between hard science, social interaction and art. It’s a good medium for all the things I’m interested in.”
What’s Iris’ advice to future TCS grads? “Don’t lose your love for learning! Keep an eye on yourself and don’t try to conform. Peers will put expectations on you, but you don’t have to follow them. TCS gives you a good sense of valuing yourself, hang on to that!”