An after-school activity at the mall you can be proud of

Lincoln Mall’s lower level has plenty of window dressing to entice shoppers, but now there’s one storefront geared toward enticing young minds. A look through KidCorp Educational Services’ windows shows children are busy engaging in science projects that use solar panels and butterflies, while other kids are at learning stations reviewing homework or joining in group reading sessions.

KES is a home-school site that provides full-day class for the Pre-K population and alternative schooling for students in grades K-12.

“Many districts will not be able to host school programs due to a lack of funding,” says KES co-founder Kim Gaitor. “So there’s an urgent need for supportive programs students are accustomed to receiving during the school year.”

KES is answering that call by providing a one-stop destination for kids’ educational needs: For those seeking alternative education there are classes geared toward Illinois Learning Standards, equal to 180 days or more of instruction; tutoring in reading, math, science and writing readiness from licensed teachers; and summer/holiday enrichment to maintain the educational momentum during school breaks.

Kristy Dixon, Riverdale resident and mother of three, was referred to KES by another parent and says she’s been impressed ever since.

“My kids get excited about coming every day. They make friends with other students and staff, and the teachers utilize curriculum that keeps them engaged. As a parent, I can see my kids want to learn, and that’s an accomplishment,” Dixon says.

KES also offers after-school activities such as cheerleading, drama and music, as well as weekly field trips, mentoring and career development.

KES co-founder DoriAnn Williams, a special needs teacher in the Park Forest school district, and Gaitor, a reading specialist with a divinity background, assess students and then create an individualized academic program for each child.

The KES site is accepting applications now for 50 children. Depending on services needed, prices range from $50 per month (after-school activities) to $5,565 for full-day kindergarten. Call (708) 898-0561 or visit for more information.

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