Leadership History


Shari Gelman (right) was the founding director of Ivymount and served in that role from 1961 to 1997.

During her remarkable tenure, the school grew from  one child,  one teacher, and one therapist, housed at Christ Church in Bethesda, Maryland,  then to five sites  in the 1970’s, and finally to the consolidation of the various classes to the school’s current location on Seven Locks  Road in the early 1980’s.  Shari’s philosophy centered around the need to serve children whose challenges were not being adequately met in their public schools. She went on to develop a program that eventually included teams of special educators and therapists who recognized the value of interdisciplinary and individualized programs to meet the learning, behavioral, social, and physical challenges of children, and eventually young adults, with developmental disabilities. Shari led the school through its formative years, securing the foundation that remains in place today.  

In l997, Jan Wintrol (left) became Ivymount School’s second-only director and served in that capacity until 2015 when she was named as Ivymount’s first CEO. Jan built on Shari's foundation to encourage and celebrate students’ accomplishments and, as well, to consistently recognize staff for their dedication and contributions to the learning environment. Under her leadership, Ivymount grew in many remarkable ways that included serving students from ages 4 -21, the development of multiple programs for students across the autism spectrum, a robust School-to-Work program to prepare young adults for independent and productive futures, and the commitment to evaluating student outcomes as they serve to refine the school’s programs and services. The building was renovated and expanded during her tenure to accommodate more students with varying strengths and challenges. Outreach Programs, drawing on the skills of Ivymount School staff, were developed to serve children, young adults and families from throughout the Greater Washington area.

Jan’s vision was to take the best of what the school offered to make it available to a broad community of students, parents, and professionals. Over a number of years, she forged partnerships with, among others, Children’s National Medical Center, the National Institutes of Health, Georgetown University Hospital Pediatrics, the Smithsonian Institution, Montgomery County Government, and the special education community throughout the Greater Washington area, thereby bringing important recognition to Ivymount.

Her legacy will be defined by her lifelong dedication to the education of children and young adults and her commitment to insuring that the resources are available to support the highest possible standards for special education.


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