Mike Nekritz

July 27, 2016

Three Years and Thriving - Our Story

What began as an idea to develop an alternative setting for students who need an intensive level of emotional support has turned into a successful school. We meet this charge by delivering academic challenges at each student’s individual skill level, provide an environment that supports social/emotional growth, graduate students from high school, offer supports to a greater community, and hired a terrific faculty. We could not be prouder of our growth and development and wish to share some highlights!

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The vision of Felicity School was created from the belief that all students should develop socially, intellectually, and emotionally in a safe school environment. School should be engaging, fun, and dynamic enough to match the unique individual needs of each and every student. The name Felicity commemorates the life of Felicia Beth Nekritz, a wonderful woman whose passion for human rights, justice, and the intrinsic value of every person who knew few equals.


Our Logo: We chose the mythical Phoenix with a twist as our logo. The Phoenix continually rises from the ashes to experience a beautiful rebirth. We believe Felicity School offers this same opportunity for our students. The tail of our Phoenix, pictured on right in pink, also represents the commitment we have to philanthropy (upside down breast cancer symbol) and our school namesake, Felicia Beth Nekritz, who passed away at 26 years old after her battle with breast cancer.


Our physical campus, classroom design, school protocols, and key partnerships reflect our core values. We have surrounded ourselves with like-minded passionate people, hired a talented and creative staff, and continue to champion the cause to offer unique perspectives/solutions for all kids. Our Core Values are:


• All students can achieve greatness.

• Education is a partnership with community, parents, school faculty, local businesses and

• Learning happens best in a safe, friendly, positive environment.

• The whole individual should be developed, integrating the body, spirit and mind.

• Experiential learning is critical for development and growth.

• Developing social-emotional skills is crucial to a well-rounded education.

• Behaviors are best developed with positive supports.

• Provide choice, independence, and accountability to all our students and staff.

• Value our diverse learners and diversity in our staff.

• Academic growth occurs as we utilize data, individualize instruction, teach to strengths, and remediate weaker areas.


Felicity surrounds students with unique opportunities to learn, interact with people, pursue passions, and develop areas of both strength and identified necessary growth. Some unique programs that Felicity has and will continue to offer its students include:


• Adventure education trips- backpacking; rock climbing; canoeing

• Yoga

• Personal Defense/Boxing- partnered with Alpha Krav Maga Compound

• Independent Studies- courses designed so students can pursue areas of passion

• Substance abuse counseling

• Career planning, interview practice, and job search assistance

• Employment counseling

• Field Trips- Feed My Starving Children, Holocaust Museum, Old World Wisconsin, Northbrook Park District Teams Challenge Course...


Among differentiators that we hope to offer our students, Felicity School has brought in leaders from multiple domains to meet with and engage with our students to demonstrate the potential of each child. Whether it be a sports leader, political leader, or journalistic leader, each has come in and spent time with our students and spoke to them about their story, the challenges, and the path they have taken to get where they are today. Here are some examples of unique visitors to the Felicity campus over the past three years:


• NBA Legend- Scottie Pippen

• Chicago Bull- Jimmy Butler

• State Politicians: State Senators- Julie Morrison and Karen McConnaughay State Representatives- Elaine Nekritz

• Illinois Federation of Teachers President Daniel Montgomery

• NBA Player, Coach and Commentator- Doug Collins

• Golf Channel’s commentator-David Feherty

• Team China (U17 Girls’ National Team)


Another unique characteristic of Felicity School is our commitment to external partnerships.  We feel the more diverse we can be with our programming, through strategic partnerships, the more rich of an experience that we can provide our students. Partnerships and other items of note:


• Our opening event- The Felicity Gala, raised nearly $25,000 for organizations supporting breast cancer and advocating for juvenile justice

• Bounce Volleyball

• North Shore Sports and Wellness

• Felicity School received recognition by the Chicago Innovations Awards in 2015 for our unique programming

• New partnership for 2016-17 will bring an Art Therapist intern with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to work with our students regularly


We are very fortunate to have an amazing physical space. This 45,000 square foot area is at our disposal, so our students have room to move. We utilize our beautiful recreational facilities, including four basketball courts, throughout the day. Our faculty takes advantage of the students’ lounge for team development activities as well as for social and recreational activities. We eat lunch on our mezzanine, and begin the day with breakfast in the ‘Party Room’. We also have more traditional ‘homerooms’ for our classroom work, as well.


Felicity utilizes both traditional and technology based curriculum. Students work through many of their core courses using an online program that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards. We also utilize a direct instruction approach to supplement the online coursework. Our recent partnership with NextLesson, an online database of creative lessons, provides additional resources for our students and teachers. We have recently started developing custom courses using the Understanding by Design framework that will become part of our course offerings as we move in to the next school year.


Our Amazing Staff:


The faculty at Felicity provides the backbone to our success, through their focused efforts to develop personal relationships with all of our students. We are blessed to begin our fourth year with no staff turnover. Even our contracted experts in reading instruction (Wilson Reading), our Addictions Counselor, our Speech-Language Pathologist, and our Occupational Therapist, are The Felicity staff is trained and well versed in several important approaches considered ‘best practices’ that provide consistency and efficacy within our school setting. Everyone has been trained and certified in Life Space Crisis Intervention, a certification program that gives staff a systematic way to help students work through crisis situations. We also have a Crisis Prevention Institute trainer on staff who is responsible for maintaining our skills in the areas of nonviolent crisis intervention including de-escalation, redirection, and physical intervention Teacher Testimonials:


Ms. Wright: “I remember during our first Thanksgiving celebration we had for our students, Jon was so thankful for Felicity School. I remember clearly him saying ‘I feel safe here and I can be myself.’ At that moment I knew we were on the correct path towards our development and Principal O’Neill recalls that the graduation ceremonies have been rewarding. “Seeing the kids make it through high school and leave us with a real plan for their future is energizing. I can picture the smiles from all of the graduates like it happened yesterday. Knowing that Justin is off to Colorado for college and that we played a part in his success is amazing. I am also grateful that the sender districts have had the faith in us to do what is best and right for our students.”


Mr. Saltzman recounts how we align our beliefs to practice. “When we talk about our core values I feel great to be a part of the Felicity family, but when we are able to demonstrate our values by the way we work with kids, I am excited to be in education and working with our amazing students. We are doing the right work.”


We welcome the opportunity to share more about our school, programs, faculty, and community at any point. Fee free to call us at (224) 999-3900 or visit our website at We hope to hear from you and look forward to working with your


Mike Nekritz

May 11, 2016

China's National17U women's team visits Felicity

The Under 17 National Chinese Women's Basketball Team spent some time training at our facilities and interacting with Felicity students. The entire group enjoyed an impromptu dessert while trying to overcome the language and cultural differences. The exchange was enlightening for all.  One student commented how relations with China would continue to improve if more time was spent getting to know one another. We could not agree more, and wish our new friends good luck with their national tour.

Ed O'Neill

Jan. 10, 2016

Felicity students to be on national television

Felicity students enjoyed an incredible opportunity to interact with two celebrities and be part of a nationally broadcasted show on the Golf Channel. Former professional golfer and television personality David Feherty interviewed NBA legend, former Chicago Bulls Coach and TV Broadcaster Doug Collins at our facilities for the Feherty Live show. Felicity students took part in the production spending time learning basketball from Coach Collins. David Feherty participated like the kids. All agreed that the experience was tremendous. Some commented on meeting these personalities, while others enjoyed seeing first hand how a production crew creates a television show for a national audience. Stay tuned for information on when the show will air!

Mike Nekritz

Sep. 7, 2015

Felicity Nominated For Prestigious Award

We are thrilled to announce that Felicity School has been nominated for the 2015 Chicago Innovation Award. Felicity's program in alternative education is being considered as an innovative service in the greater Chicago area. We will learn more about the process from here at the September 9th Nominee Reception at the Park West.


Felicity heads to the Porcupine Mountains

Sol Luskin

Aug. 22, 2015

Lions, Tigers, and Bears! Oh my!  (Well..We hope not).  Some well deserving Felicity School students are off to the great outdoors for hiking, survival training, team building, and camping under the stars!


Through a partnership with Upward Bound outdoor education, Felicity students will hike the Porcupine Mountains, Michigan for three days and nights. Principal Ed O’Neill and Teacher’s Aid Andy Linton will be alongside the students every step of the way building relationships, facilitating learning, and maybe even gaining a new found appreciation of Mother Nature.  Students will cook their meals, establish camp, and work together traveling a total of 18 miles.  An Upward Bound instructor will offer structure and encourage the students to not only push their own limits… but to be supportive and helpful team members, interacting positively with other members to achieve their common goals.



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About Us

Core Values

 Felicity School is designed to serve students who are eligible for special education services in the categories of Emotional Disability (ED), Learning Disability (LD), and Other Health Impaired (OHI).

Felicity School is a non-traditional, school environment with open and flexible spaces that ameliorates some of the negative feelings that students might associate with a more traditional school setting. Our student to staff ratio is a maximum of 10 students working with 2 staff members (one certified teacher and one paraprofessional).  Related Services staff are available as directed by each student’s Individual Education Plan.


  •  All students can achieve greatness.
  •  Education is a partnership with community, parents, school faculty, local businesses and more.
  •  Learning happens best in a safe, friendly, positive environment.
  •  The whole individual should be developed integrating the body, spirit, and mind.
  •  Experiential learning is critical for development and growth.
  • Developing social-emotional skills is crucial to a well-rounded education.
  • Behaviours are best developed with positive supports.
  • We value choice, independence, and accountability and will provide these to all our  students and staff.
  •  We value our diverse learners and diversity in our staff.
  •  Academic growth will occur as we utilize data, individualize instruction, teach to strengths, and remediate weaker areas.

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