About Open Hemispheres

Open Hemispheres answers a much needed service in our community. Many of the most vulnerable students at the 4th and 5th grade level do not participate in after school activities/care due to financial and accessibility issues. Free programs are offered through 3rd grade and then again in middle school, but during this critical time of academic and social development, from 9-11 years old, there are few options for many families.

Open Hemispheres is a comprehensive program designed specifically to meet the needs of lower-income, refugee/immigrant 4th and 5th grade girls. Beyond the academic and language support provided by the program participants are encouraged to explore self-expression, build self-confidence, expand self-awareness and self-care through exposure to a variety of activities as a means to total success.

Non-compartmentalization of the individual experience is the key to unlocking the diverse interests and potential of each student. Through an exploratory workshop model that rotates on a regular basis as well as participation in community service projects, the complex strengths, needs, desires, and curiosities of each participant can be identified and nurtured. The mission of Open Hemispheres is to empower girls to realize their full potential by emphasizing emotional, physical, social, and educational wellness.

Staff / Board

katie costa bio picKatie Costa is the founder of Open Hemispheres and a native of Chapel Hill, NC. She holds a Masters in Science from City College of NY in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Now a 10 year veteran ESL teacher, Katie began her career serving six years with the New York City public schools working with students from all over the world in East Harlem and Bushwick, Brooklyn. She left New York to explore one of her passions and spent three years in Los Angeles working in Fashion and Wardrobe Styling, however in her heart she was always drawn back to working with children. When the opportunity presented itself to join Rustic Pathways, an organization dedicated to education and service in communities worldwide, she headed to Southeast Asia to work with US high school students teaching English to Karen, Burmese, and Cambodian children. Upon returning to Chapel Hill to meet her nephew, born while she was overseas, she decided to stay and signed on with the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School System as an elementary ESL teacher. Since then she has worked at several local elementary schools and is committed to her students and her community, often participating in extracurricular activities with students past and present. Her favorite words are choice and curiosity and they are at the heart of everything she does. She believes in facilitating communication and expansion through a shared experience of wonderment and exploration and she is excited to bring her passion and experience to this new endeavor.

Dani Strauss was born and raised in Chapel Hill, where she made little altars everywhere. She is a practitioner and teacher of yin and vinyasa yoga (RYT-500) and she leads weekly kirtans in Carrboro. She started singing at a very young age, and when she heard Sanskrit chanting for the first time, it was like a rediscovery of truth and spirit. She believes sound and vibration are powerful tools to cultivate community and heart-to-heart connections with those around us. Her yoga classes include movement, breath, sound, and intention to cultivate balance and ease in the body and mind. She loves to create and meditate with malas, offer hands-on assists in class, and sprinkle glitter on literally everything.