History of Ivymount Spans History of Special Education

Since Ivymount’s founding in 1961, significant changes have occurred in the United States regarding the rights and inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the education system. Ivymount School has been proactive in adapting to these evolving frameworks and in providing programming options that are often unavailable anywhere else. 

In the early 1960s, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed, calling for equal access to education for all students and federal funding for primary and secondary education. Special education was still in its nascent stages, and Ivymount began offering community-based services to children with developmental disabilities who were not being served adequately by their public schools and were often sent to residential programs.  

Next came the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) of 1975. This legislation ensured that students with disabilities received a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment, and Ivymount embraced these principles by tailoring educational programs to meet the unique needs of each student.  

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Ivymount School continued to expand its services and facilities to accommodate a wider range of disabilities. The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1997 revolutionized special education by focusing on evidence-based education and individualized transition plans to prepare students for adulthood. Paralleling this focus on post-school readiness, Ivymount added the Vocational Program serving students through age 21. 

By the beginning of the 21st century, Ivymount had become a model for special education in Maryland. Continuing our mission to serve students and families with unmet needs, Ivymount: 

  • Launched the Maddux School serving Pre-K through 2nd graders with a unique social emotional learning curriculum 
  • Formalized our Post High School/School-to-Work Program for 18- to 21-year-olds 
  • Established the Endeavors School Program (formerly called the Autism Program) to support students with specialized instruction and services in a staff-intensive life skills program  
  • Established the Aspire Academic & Social model (formerly called the Model Asperger Program), a program preparing students to receive high school diplomas and readying them for college and work 
  • Partnered with a local adult service provider to create Project SEARCH sites at NIH (National Institutes of Health), the Smithsonian Institution, and Montgomery County Government, each offering a one-year internship and training program to young adults with developmental disabilities seeking competitive employment on completion.  

Ivymount’s leadership in special education and responsiveness to evolving trends in the field demonstrate our dedication to creating a supportive learning environment for all students. At a recent event commemorating the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, President Biden said, “That’s the story we celebrate here today: progress, hard fought and won, making real our nation’s founding promise that every American – every American has a right to be recognized and respected for who they are.” At Ivymount, we are proud to play a part in that history.

Learn more about how Ivymount remains true to our original mission.

To support Ivymount in moving forward with momentum and transforming the lives of students and families, click here.


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