History of Chelsea School

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More than four decades ago, Chelsea School became the first high school in the DC area specifically designed to serve the unique needs of students with learning differences. In May of 1976, founders Betty Nehemias and Eleanor Worthy, two parents of children with dyslexia, began a legacy of inspiring talented young people to meet their learning challenges head on and achieve success in college and beyond.

From the very beginning, Chelsea School's focus was on providing a skill-based curriculum to students organized in small homogeneous groups based on reading level. The teaching methods that were established were individualized and multi-sensory and included intensive reading intervention based on the most current research and findings. As the school’s reputation grew in the 70’s and 80’s, families throughout the Washington, DC area began to look to Chelsea School to help their children struggling with learning disabilities. 

By 1989, the school made a major evolutionary shift in its focus by admitting publicly-funded students from Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland. Chelsea School had always been dedicated to those students who were not adequately served; however, now admittance to the program could be extended to students who would not have had the economic means otherwise. Chelsea School’s program model of educating children with learning disabilities was expanded to include children who would not have had the economic means to attend a school that met their individual needs.

Since its founding in 1976, our school has been through many changes, and has changed the lives of hundreds of students. Throughout, Chelsea's mission and guiding values remain unchanged. Our commitment to small classes, individualized multi-sensory instruction, explicit direction and assessment, and intensive reading intervention based on current research is as strong now as it was then.

Chelsea School continues this vision today. Currently, around 70% of our students are funded by their public school jurisdictions. Our world-class staff of educators is working on the cutting edge of special education research and methodology. The commitment to small classes, individualized multi-sensory instruction, explicit direction and assessment, and intensive reading intervention based on current research is as strong as it was 40 years ago.