An Ivymount Family’s Journey

Student Greydon and his parents Jeff Fischer and Melissa Flaim, have been an Ivymount family since 2012. Over the years, the family has given extensively of their time and resources to support the Ivymount mission in a multitude of ways, including as donors, PTA volunteers, serving on Ivymount boards of directors, and co-chairing the organization’s largest fundraising event – the Ivymount Foundation Gala – several times. 

Jeff and Melissa co-chaired the October 2023 Memories and Momentum Gala, celebrating six decades of Ivymount. Greydon, who is interested in studying the field of voice acting after high school, lent his talents by providing announcements throughout the gala. Melissa and Jeff were featured speakers, eloquently relating their own family story to help recognize the success of so many students, families and staff who have been part of Ivymount’s long history. Below are their remarks from that evening. Watch the gala program video, including Melissa and Jeff’s remarks at 23:49.

Melissa Flaim speaks at the Ivymount Foundation Gala

Melissa: “If you are an Ivymount family, you feel as if you are the luckiest people alive. You are thankful, you are grateful, and you can’t believe you have the great good fortune to have your child be connected, in some way, to this organization. Whether they are at The Maddux School or Ivymount School or are working with our Community Partners or are part of the Outreach Program, to be an Ivymount family means that your lives are now filled with possibility.  

But to be an Ivymount family means that at some earlier point in time, someone such as a caring public school teacher, a pediatrician, a neuropsychologist, said to you, “I think your child might need more. I think we should run some tests. Your child has special needs that we aren’t certain we can serve. Your child – is – atypical.”  

At that moment, your life changed – from everything you ever thought it would be as a parent to what it actually was going to be. And what your life was actually going to be – was challenging.  

And in many ways. Lonely. Because no one would really understand what you as a family were experiencing. No one would see your child in as wonderful a light as you did. No one would have as much resolve for your child as you do. And no one would understand how to help you, or your child, maneuver this new reality.  

But. Ivymount would.  

That the Ivymount Organization exists is nothing short of a miracle – to have a staff of teachers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, nurses and support staff who are wholly focused on seeing each child as an individual and whose sole purpose is to nurture and encourage YOUR child to be the best person in the world that they can be is stunning. A group of people who CHOOSE to work with dedication and focus for your child. But it’s not actually a miracle, it’s the result of decades of hard work and forward thinking.  

When Greydon was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of four, we were enrolled in our local public school. We had wonderful supportive teachers, and we were lucky to have loving and supportive friends (some of whom are here tonight with us) but at the diagnosis our doctor said to us – that school is great for now – but you will know rapidly when you need something else, and you WILL need something else.  

We did know rapidly – the phone calls from the school increased, the loving teacher would greet me each day at pick up and say, “Well, today was a difficult day.” We would get home, and Grey would cry, and I would cry, and Jeff would get home and try to make us laugh, but learning, functioning, existing was arduous. We needed something else, and we were fortunate to live here in Washington, DC, close to Ivymount. And we were absurdly fortunate that Ivymount had the resources and the staff to welcome our son.   

Suddenly, things were possible. The calls that came from school weren’t, “Come pick him up,” or “He’s dropping pencils out of the window.” They were, “Grey has had a great day,” or “I’ve noticed this, and I want to try this to help him,” or “Greydon’s progress is tremendous.”     

That kind of individualized focus is rare, and it means more to us as Grey’s parents than anyone will ever know. Grey has become the person he was meant to be at Ivymount. He has become someone who can meet the world, and self-advocate, and be in the world.  And the Ivymount Organization hasn’t just educated Greydon. They have educated and helped us more than we can articulate. We are better parents, better activists, better humans in the world.   

It is not an understatement for us to say that the Ivymount Organization is the single most important influence on our lives as a family. Grey started at the Ivymount School when he was seven. Today, he is eighteen, on the verge of graduating from the school, and looking at options for a future we could not have dreamed of when that someone said to us, “Your child is…. Atypical.”  

We can’t thank Ivymount enough, but we will spend the rest of our lives trying to do so.   
Thank you.”  

Greydon, Melissa and Jeff were very excited to share the news that Greydon was accepted at David and Elkins College, in the Naylor Learning Center Supported Learning Program. Congratulations to Greydon on his hard work and dedication as a student in Ivymount School’s Aspire Academic and Applied Learning Model. Best wishes for his upcoming high school graduation and an equally successful college experience! 

Learn more about six decades of Ivymount Remaining True to Our Mission.  


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