• 1968 – Speech and Language Therapist, Donna Aseltine, founds Aseltine School for Special Needs Children after she noted a lack of educational resources for these children in San Diego. The school operates out of Donna’s home with the support of parents, friends, and local community leaders. That November, Aseltine School becomes recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization by the IRS.
• 1972 – Aseltine moves to its current location in Hillcrest in a former parochial school building. Now that it can serve more children, Aseltine attracts local educators. Those students – who struggled for so long to succeed in a traditional academic setting – now have another opportunity to realize their potential – they become Aseltine students.
• 1977 – Marian Grant becomes Executive Director of Aseltine. Mrs. Grant develops a skilled and caring staff and an individualized curriculum that addresses students’ academic, physical, social, and emotional needs. During this time, Mrs. Grant and her staff realize that they – and their program – have a unique gift for helping students struggling with behavioral issues.
• 1987 – Dr. Hayden Thomas begins his tenure as Executive Director. He and his team build upon the innovative foundation established by Mrs. Grant. The new Aseltine Program focuses on identifying and moving students well beyond the limitations of the “behavioral engineering” approach that has long dominated special education practice. The new Aseltine Program holds students accountable for their decisions and actions – and works with students as full partners in their learning process.
• 2008 – Aseltine celebrates its 40th Anniversary of service to San Diego County’s struggling K-12 students. Aseltine’s reputation grows, receiving praise from the State in its review and from school districts, case managers, school psychologists, probation officers, state officials, and others in the community. From its beginnings as a school for children with developmental disabilities, Aseltine has remained true to its mission of educating San Diego’s children whose educational needs cannot be met by the public school system.
Today, Aseltine’s innovative conflict-resolution-centered educational model has made us San Diego’s school of choice for children who have both learning disabilities and a tough time learning to behave.
One parent of a current student recently wrote: “Aseltine should not be thought of as a place for the last chance, but as a place for another chance for new possibilities . . . Disabilities are an explanation for challenges and behavior, not an excuse . . . Aseltine has given my son another chance and allowed him to succeed. It has changed the ‘I can’t…’ to ‘I CAN…’! Thank you.”