Eunice Kennedy Shriver - Founder of the
Special Olympics, playing basketball at
Manhattanville College in 1975.
Hawthorne Foundation Inc., formerly the Margaret Chapman School, has been educating children since 1968. Since then, we have become Hawthorne Foundation Inc. – an organization that has grown to serve an ever growing number of children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Eileen Bisordi began teaching at the Margaret Chapman School in 1968. At that time, individuals with severe intellectual disabilities did not have the right to be educated. Even then, Eileen was an advocate for the rights of individuals with severe disabilities. She felt all students, regardless of the severity of the disability, have a right to learn. She fought for educational rights, for better educational conditions, and for opportunities to participate in the community. She quickly knew that her role was to advocate. To do that she needed to take a larger role in the school. She soon became the Executive Director, and she went right back to the graduate school that was preparing her to teach a differently-abled type of student and fought to have a professor who was exploring innovative approaches to education, training, and organizational management, come to Hawthorne Foundation Inc. to help her make a difference.
The year was 1980, and that was Hawthorne’s segue into Applied Behavior Analysis. Hawthorne served individuals ranging in age from five to twenty-one years, at their residential school in Westchester County, New York. The goal was to develop innovative teacher training programs, education methods, and organizational frameworks that have influenced teachers, administrators for years with the methods and foundations still in use today.
Today Hawthorne Foundation Inc. has Educational Programs (Early Intervention, Preschool, School Age Westchester, and School Age Manhattan) to help students as early as eighteen months to twenty-one years of age. Today HFI has OPWDD Adult Programs (Residential Community Based Homes and Day Habilitation) that continues to provide educational, vocational, and meaningful post-high school experiences for adults twenty-one years and older. Today Hawthorne has Medicaid Service Coordination and Family Support Service Grants (Parent Education and Weekend Recreation Respite) that provides help to our families. And we continue to grow. As we are changing, expanding, and continuing to provide high quality educational, vocational, and habilitative services, one thing has not changed—our commitment and dedication to individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.
What will the future hold? Eileen Bisordi remains true to her original vision. “Hawthorne Foundation is dedicated to one ideal: the commitment to help our students achieve the fullest potential in life. It is truly our people - board members, staff, volunteers, parents, and friends—who support our philosophy of individual worth and human dignity and who make Hawthorne a place of growth and hope for the future.”