What past students, parents, and community leaders think of us.
Our mission is to impart an education that will prepare young people to be principled, creative individuals of independent judgment, capable of succeeding and leading in tomorrow’s dynamic world civilization.
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Student & Parents Say
"A Radically Different Approach to Education"
What A Graduate Student Gained
From The Great Connections:
Great Connections' Alum Interview: Morgan Bensky
Graduate student in economics, Ryan Griggs, details how students gain reasoning skills, self-confidence, and autonomy
“The seminar gave me confidence that I could achieve great things. It was like something was lit inside. I acquired the intellectual tools to help me come to my own conclusions. And I realized how lacking my formal education was. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”
Brendan is now a graduate student in Comparative Literature, Emory University, Atlanta.”
“Where I come from, people cannot even picture themselves doing what I’ve done this week. I am now a growing example of what everyone in my community can do for themselves. I have gained more power with the amount of new ideas shared, sights seen, and people met. It has added to my own personal, physical, and mental power to design my life.”
Derick is now an executive with Flynance.
“The Great Connections dialogues are a truly better way to learn. They encouraged me to learn myself and to constantly work on developing my own philosophy towards life. What really hit home was that you have to actively question in order to establish a clear and grounded understanding—in order to reach the truth. I learned “question your teachers”—if you simply soak up what they tell you, you don't have a true understanding.
A Summa Cum Laude graduate of Rockford University in Economics, Ivy now works for the Government Affairs & Economic Specialist at Region 1 Planning Council.
“I came away with a greater ability to express ideas, understand the ideas of others, and make connections between very different areas of thought. These skills will help me in my college studies and in my career immensely.”
A graduate in economics from Cartlton College, Nathan now works as a Supervisor at McMaster-Carr in Elmhurst, IL.
“I learned how to approach [philosophical] topics, learn mathematics and found people who are motivated, determined, and proactive to further their education. I will be attending college soon and this program gives me critical thinking that will allow me to fully understand my class subjects and their true meaning.”
“Comparing this ideology to the regular educational system, this unavoidable feeling of frustration comes up: Why, with such a fantastic method, isn't there a change? The passion in learning that everybody had is proof of this seminar's effectiveness.”
“He came home a changed man, more adult and serious. And this change has continued.”
“When he returned home, something was lit inside of him he was like Columbus, he’d discovered a new world. He felt very validated, it gave him so much confidence in himself.”
“The seminar helped him find himself and his self-confidence. He was not very enthusiastic about going, rather go skiing. After at the airport, the very first he shouted ‘It was a tremendous week!’ Now he knows that he can support his opinions and they are worth something.”
“In ONE WEEK at your program, she became more confident and alive. You lit a spark in her. Jessica was very introverted, yet after she came home that girl talked more in an hour than she would in a month. Now I can hardly get her to shut up. After her sister’s accident, she was terrified to drive. Within 2 weeks of the seminar, she got her license and drives all over the place.”
Community Leader Endorsements
Jim Kandrac, founder and CEO of UCG Technologies
In September of 2017 technology entrepreneur Jim Kandrac joined the board for The Great Connections. He had previously attended the seminar and also been featured in the seminar’s “Meet the Achievers” program.
“Being an entrepreneur and business owner for 30 years, I have seen a significant decline in the preparedness and quality of students coming out of universities. College seems to have become an extension of high school. Most students learn once they get out into the ‘real world’ because they have not been challenged to think creatively for themselves and solve problems. They are force fed what to think and believe.
I have attended the Great Connections adult program and enjoyed participating and presenting at the Great Connections summer program for young adults in Chicago. I have witnessed first hand how, in just one week, the curriculum has enlightened students to be much better prepared for life. I am very excited to start working with Marsha and the board in developing and bringing to fruition the Great Connections nine-month Gap Year program for high school and college students.”
R. Paul Drake, Professor of Space Sciences at the University of Michigan
“In the nearly 30 years I have known Marsha Familaro Enright, we have discussed many topics surrounding education. These have ranged from the understanding of human cognition to the Montessori-inspired curricula she has designed, to the practical applications of these ideas to our own children. I have often enjoyed seeing Marsha speak to groups and have observed her skill in leading discussions. A theme that has transcended all of these experiences has been Marsha’s determination that education should train students to think well and independently.
I personally have been a lifelong advocate for the Montessori approach to education, and took every opportunity to place my own children in such environments. This worked out very well for them.
In my own teaching of science at the college and graduate levels, I have emphasized using sound methods to apply fundamental principles to the problem at hand, whatever it may be.
There are many things to appreciate about the diverse marketplace of colleges in the United States, and also many things to criticize. The USA has healthy diversity in some areas, including institutional size, class sizes, and things tuition pays for, but there is much less diversity in curricular and instructional approach. Broadly, experimentation is badly needed.
Specifically, I believe that approaches that emphasize training in independent, logical thinking, that apply Montessori principles at the college level, and that examine a wide range of fundamental ideas are important. For these reasons, I was pleased to become an Advisor to the Great Connections.”
Michael Strong, one of the most experienced creators of small, innovative, high performance schools in the world
“Marsha is an experienced education entrepreneur who founded a school in the Chicago area that has thrived for 27 years. She has led The Great Connections for nine years, growing the program to serve a wide range of students. She has a proven ability to found and lead educational institutions.
The Great Connections may be unique in applying classical liberal principles across a significant scope of critical topics in a Socratic context that allows students to reflect upon and internalize the essential insights of the classical liberal tradition.
For those who follow campus trends, serious intellectual reflection on classical liberal principles has become all too rare on many campuses.”