60 Years of Benedictine
“It takes creativity to take us where we want to go—creativity, ingenuity, and a focus on the people we serve. Our goal is to empower people with disabilities through individualized opportunities. We believe all people have the right and responsibility to actively participate in their communities, now and well into the future.”
—SCOTT EVANS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Sister M. Dolorosa Berg founded St. Gertrude’s Priory by purchasing the 750-acre Bourne Manor or “Plantation,” one of the oldest colonial estates in Maryland.
St. Gertrude’s Academy for Young Ladies and Little Girls established with 2 female students and operated for 69 years before closing in 1959.
Sister Augustine Kern proposed a pilot program for children with special educational needs who were already enrolled in the School.
The Benedictine School was established as a private special education school with 17 girls and 2 boys.
With 30 students enrolled in the Benedictine School, the Maryland State Department of Education granted approval for Maryland residents to receive tuition assistance.
Groundbreaking of new one-story Benedictine School building for 100 boys and girls.
The first lay teachers joined the staff.
Sister Miriam Thomas appointed Directress of the School. Sister Thomas engaged community partners on local and state levels to support the School both financially and programmatically.
Ground-breaking ceremony on the feast of St. Gertrude for the gym/auditorium/classroom expansion and enclosure of the swimming pool.
First Spring Benefit to fund programs and scholarships held at the Tidewater Inn, organized by parents and friends. This event has raised close to $6.5 million to date.
First Extended School Year Program: 6 weeks in a “relaxed” summer atmosphere. The Benedictine School Poly Hockey Team wins the Gold Medal at the Special Olympics International Games held at the College at Brockport in New York.
First transition home for young men opened in Annapolis.
Benedictine Foundation established to raise funds to support Benedictine programs and services, raising more than $50 million since its inception.
First group home on the Eastern Shore opened for young adults in Easton.
First Chrome City Ride held on campus. To date, the event has drawn more than 15,000 attendees and raised over $2 million.
Sister Mary Agnes Dugan, OSB honored as first recipient of the Sister Jeannette Murray Award during the celebration of the Lifetime Achievements of Sister Jeannette Murray, OSB, at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Report.
Scott Evans named Executive Director.
Opening of Community Services & Training Center in Easton.
The Benedictine Sisters transferred ownership of the School to the Benedictine School Board of Directors.
School receives accreditation from the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services.
60th anniversary celebration year begins. Programs provide educational services and support for over 200 students and adults.
Where it all began
The Benedictine School was established in 1959 in the rural farming community of Ridgely on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. However, the school’s history dates back to 1890, when the Sisters of St. Benedict began a school for “young ladies and little girls" known as St. Gertrude Academy. The Sisters purchased Bourne Manor and moved their motherhouse from New Jersey in 1887, and Academy classes were held in the former guest house of the Manor. The Academy operated continuously for more than sixty years until decreasing enrollment led the order to consider alternative uses for the property.
During the 1950’s, the Sisters recognized the need for a school to train and educate children and young adults with developmental disabilities. In 1955, the Sisters began a pilot program for a group of 12 girls with special needs already enrolled in the Academy; and this program’s immediate success inspired them to continue with a full-time commitment to children with developmental disabilities. The first class of 19 students started in September, 1959. A new School was built in 1964 to meet the needs of the growing population.
Once students graduated from the School program, it became evident that there was continued need for residential and vocational services for them as adults. In 1982, the first residential group home for adults was built by Benedictine in Annapolis. Over the next several years, the Adult Services Program grew with group homes in Annapolis, Caroline and Talbot counties in Maryland, and in Newark and Wilmington, Delaware. An adult vocational program offering day habilitation and supported employment services grew from the vocational training areas initially established for students in the School’s transition program.
Over the years, The Benedictine School and Adult Services have grown and evolved, adapting to the changing needs of the population served. In June 2013, a historic transfer of ownership from the Sisters of St. Benedict to the School’s Board of Directors was completed. Although for the first time in Benedictine’s history, executive leadership is a lay person, Benedictine’s commitment to the legacy of excellence and progressive services initiated by the Sisters of St. Benedict over half a century ago will always be in the forefront.