Celebrating Six Decades of Ivymount

Do you know how Ivymount got started in 1961, how many unique programs we’ve created, or the many ways that Ivymount has contributed to individuals’ personal and professional lives? Our ongoing Six Decades of Ivymountcelebration is an opportunity to shout to the world how proud we are of our amazing community of current and former families, staff, partners, volunteers and donors.

We invite you to check out a timeline of Ivymount’s history and read our stories. Feel the rich history, personal triumphs, and professional dedication that IS the story of 60+ years of Ivymount.

A Timeline of Passion and Growth

Use the grey arrow in the upper right corner of the timeline below to page through the decades and learn about Ivymount’s story of growth while remaining true to our mission.

1961 to 1970
A Vision Takes Hold

Under the leadership of Shari Gelman, Ivymount’s story began in 1961 with the establishment of a center at Christ Lutheran Church to serve students with disabilities whose needs were not otherwise being met in the public schools - a mission that remains true to this day. During this decade, the program grew from 1 student and teacher to 48 students and 35 staff at two sites.

1970 to 1980
Expanding and Growing

Continuing under Shari’s leadership, and with the addition of Lillian Davis as Assistant Director, the program expanded to 5 sites serving over 100 students, including those with learning disabilities and emotional challenges. The Infant and Toddler Program, a home-based model, and The Early Childhood Program were created. Ivymount also established a board of directors. 

1980 to 1990
Creating the Ivymount Model

The 5 sites were consolidated as The Ivymount School in the current locationon Seven Locks Road.Enrollment and staff numbers grew to 150 each as specialized learning and communication programs were created. The Interdisciplinary Model, with special education teachers and therapists working together became a core tenet that remains to this day.

1990 to 2000
Leading the Way

Ivymount established multiple programs, including the  Vocational Program for students through age 21, the Autism Program for students in need of intensive specialized services), the Assistive Technology Center supporting assessment and resources and the Center for Outreach in Education (CORE).

2000 to 2010
Building the Future

This decade featured additions to Ivymount's operations, partnerships, and leadership. The campus was transformed by a new two-story wing, updated playgrounds and a second building acquired adjacent to the main building, which became the Young Adult Center for Independent Futures. The Maddux School opened its doors to eventually serve pre-K through 1st grade with a general education program.  Ivymount School established The Model Asperger Program, offering a diploma track and social learning programs, and formalized the Post High School – School to Work Program to support transitioning youth. It also worked with SEEC, an adult service agency, to provide Project SEARCH, a one-year internship training program offered through jobsite partners the National Institute for Public Health’s Clinical Center, the Smithsonian Institution, and Montgomery County Government.

2010 to 2020
Investing in Excellence

Ivymount School formalized a continuum of services established across four separate models, all providing evidence-based, interdisciplinary programs for students pursuing a high-school diploma and certificate of completion. Community job sites expanded to 35 across the Greater Washington area.  

Outreach Programs expanded services to include recreation, therapy,  workshops, and professional support to the special education community. The Early Childhood Clinic was established under Outreach Programs to serve young children (ages 2 – 4) with a diagnosis of autism. 

1961 to 2023
Maintaining the Vision Through Leadership

Ivymount has a unique history of leadership, having had only three executive directors since our founding in 1961.  Shari Gelman was the founding director of Ivymount School in 1961, serving in that role until 1997. Jan Wintrol then became Ivymount School’s second-only director and served in that capacity until 2015 when she was named as Ivymount’s first CEO. Susan Holt became the third Director of Ivymount School in 2014. With the retirement of Jan in 2019, Susan was named Executive Director and CEO.  Their long-term dedication to the field of special education and intimate knowledge of our students and clients has produced far-reaching impact.

2005 to 2020
Contributing to the Field

From the start, Ivymount was committed to advancing the field of special education. The Tull Fund was established to recognize staff for their work to adapt educational and therapeutic curricula, training, and mentoring, as well as to support them developing new programs and materials that could be made available to the broader special education community. Within seven years, 45 projects were completed through efforts by 185 staff members.  

Thanks to the generosity of Suzanne and Bill Tull, the Tull Fund built the foundation and has generously supported the IvyShares Initiative, which allows Ivymount to invest in staff who developed research projects, educational tools, and the dissemination of program outcomes. 

Six Decades of Ivymount Stories