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The Havern Story: A Legacy of Educating Children with Learning Disabilities

Havern School has successfully educated children with learning disabilities for 50 years.

Havern School is a nonsectarian school that was founded by the Sisters of Loretto, a visionary group of educators. In 1963, two teachers, Sr. Barbara Schulte and Sr. Dorothy Hurley, attended a master’s degree program at Syracuse University under the direction of Dr. William Cruickshank, a specialist in the new and little-known field of educating the “perceptually handicapped” (later referred to as “learning disabled”). Dr. Cruickshank encouraged the Sisters to open a school in Denver to educate children with learning disabilities.

After completing the master’s program at Syracuse, the Sisters interned at the newly opened Pathway School in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Sr. Barbara and Sr. Dorothy returned to Littleton, Colorado to join Sr. Patricia Miller and Sr. Bridget O’Toole in the planning and opening of the new school. The Sisters settled on the name Havern School, after Sr. Ann (Nancy) Havern, one of the founding Sisters of Loretto and a pioneer educator in rural Kentucky.

On Sept. 12, 1966, Havern School officially opened its doors to 24 students, ages 5 through 12. There were nine faculty and staff members and tuition was $900 per year. Sr. Celine Marie De Smet became the school’s first director. At the time, few suitable instructional materials were available, so the Sisters taught during the day and created their own instructional materials in the evening. They literally worked and lived at the school during those first several years. With great wisdom and foresight, the Sisters incorporated the school in 1970 and turned it over to a private non-denominational Board of Trustees. Today, Havern School operates as a nonprofit independent day school.

After 50 years of continuing service, Havern School has established a legacy of successfully meeting the educational needs of children with learning disabilities. We are excitedly looking forward to the next 50 years and continuing to create bright futures for generations of children still to come!

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