Yesterday: A Look at the Past
Colorado was still a territory when "The Colorado Institute for the Education of Mutes" was founded by Jonathan R. Kennedy in 1874. Jonathan Kennedy had previously served as the steward of the Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe. With an appropriation of $5000 from the Territorial Legislature, Kennedy opened the school on April 8, 1874. It began with an enrollment of seven students; three of whom were his own and added six more during the course of that year. Its original location was a house in downtown Colorado Springs. The house was rented for $50/month. Jonathan Kennedy and his wife were the maternal grandparents of the famous silent film actor Lon Chaney, Sr. whose parents were both deaf. His son, Lon Chaney, Jr. followed in his footsteps in the early silver screen. The student population rapidly outgrew the space available and with a donation of ten acres by the founder of the city of Colorado Springs, General William Palmer, the school moved to its current campus in 1876. In the beginning, the school stressed vocational training. The school's motto was "Learn to do by doing." Early classes included dressmaking, hammock weaving, needlework, and general housekeeping for the girls, with printing, carpentry, baking, mattress making, broom making, piano tuning, and chair caning for the boys. In the early 1900's the school purchased a 120-acre dairy ranch and maintained a high grade of dairy cattle as well as chickens and pigs until the 1950's. In 1961 the school received its initial accreditation from the Colorado Department of Education.
Today: A Look to the Present
Today the school occupies 17 buildings and sits on 37 acres. The School serves over 280 students on campus and statewide through local districts. Of the on-campus students approximately 50% are residential. Students may live on campus if their home is outside the El Paso County area. There is no fee to attend the school, but occasionally there may be transportation costs involved. Programming today, even more than ever, builds on the strengths of the student and focuses in on preparing them for a productive life. The school offers a fully state accredited program. The educational programs emphasize academics as well as social/emotional development and recreational/leisure activities. Students may enter the post-secondary program upon completion of their graduation credits and transition into a variety of post-high school opportunities. Through its combination of academic classes, compensatory skill development, and career training, the school prepares students to meet the ever-changing future ahead.