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Armstrong School




Our History

Learn about Charles Armstrong School and how we've created a unique place for dyslexic learners. Click photos to see an enlarged view.

1948 Dr. Charles Armstrong was a founder of the Menlo Clinic in Menlo Park, CA. He selected Dr. Wilbur Mattison Jr. to work at the Menlo Clinic. Dr. Mattison later founded the Charles Armstrong School.

Right photo: Dr. Wilbur Mattison, founder of Charles Armstrong School

1962 Dr. Charles Armstrong died at age 44.

Right photo: Dr. Charles D. Armstrong

1964 The Charles D. Armstrong Memorial Foundation was established in 1964 to honor his memory. The Foundation helped lay the groundwork for, and finance, the opening of a new school for dyslexic students. One of the doctors selected by Armstrong to work at the Menlo Clinic was Dr. Wilbur Mattison, Jr., founder of Charles Armstrong School.  

1965 Dr. Mattison went to the Armstrong Foundation and received funding for a symposium on dyslexia in Menlo Park. Speaking at the event were Dr. Sally Childs, president of the Orton Society, and Beth Slingerland, head of the Specific Language Disability program in Renton, Washington.

top photo: Speakers and leaders at one of the symposiums. Dr. Mattison is on the far left and Beth Singerland is second from right

bottom photo: Beth Slingerland

1966 The Armstrong Foundation supported a second symposium at Palo Alto's Gunn High School. Over one thousand parents, teachers, school administrators, physicians, and psychologists attended to listen to a panel discussion about this invisible disability and new teaching techniques that would enable the dyslexic learner to read.  

1968 (September) Charles Armstrong School first opened its doors to eighteen dyslexic children in the second and third grades. The school was housed in a renovated single dwelling home on University Drive in the downtown area of Menlo Park, and consisted of three classrooms and a business office.

1968 (October 5) Dedication Ceremony- The Charles D. Armstrong Memorial Foundation announces its sponsorship of an independent, elementary day school to be known as Charles Armstrong School.

1968-1972 Jean Raab (Shown in photo) was an associate of Ms. Beth Slingerland in the Renton, Washington public schools. She accepted the appointment as the first head of Charles Armstrong School at great personal sacrifice and was greatly responsible for the initial success of the school. 

1972-1978 Scott Donahey, Head of School (Shown in photo)

1974 Charles Armstrong School moved to the O'Connor School campus in Menlo Park. Declining public school enrollments began in the early 1970's.  

1975 With the support of Scott Donahey and Dr. Mattison a high school was added on a trial basis. This defied the prevailing wisdom that once dyslexic students reached a certain age, educators couldn't help them.

1978-1988 Mrs. Carol Murray initially became interested in dyslexia when her son was diagnosed as dyslexic. She received her degree from UCLA in psychology, where she focused on learning differences. During her tenure as the Head of School, the Armtsrong school progressed remarkably in all aspects of the education for the dyslexic learner. 
(Shown in photo: Carol Murray, head of School)

1978 The Armstrong Board of Trustees moved the school to a campus in Ladera, just outside Menlo Park, and rented site from the Las Lomitas school district. Here, the high school was fully instituted and advertised with the continuing decline in enrollment.  

1982 A branch of Charles Armstrong School was established in Fremont to serve East Bay students. In 1988 and became a separate private school for dyslexic students. It remains in operation as the Stellar Academy.  

1984 Charles Armstrong School moved to the former McDougal public school in Belmont, CA and in 1987 purchased the property.

1988 Tuition was $7,300 with $257,000 in financial aid being provided. A sports program was begun and a development office was created.

1988-1992 Jean Reim was a very distinguished and dedicated teacher who served as the Head of School. 

1989 The high school was moved to a new location in Millbrae CA and was reconstructed as a separate institution. The high school ceased operation in 1992.  

1992-1997 Charles Armstrong School administrative operations re-organized to include grades 1-8 and was divided into a Lower and Middle School. Mr. Steve Waters, Head of School, had served as the head of several schools in the New England Area before coming to California.  
Shown in photo: Steve Waters, Head of School

1997- 2009 Rosalie Whitlock, Head of School. During Dr. Whitlock's leadership, the Armstrong approach to the education of the dyslexic learner was modified in several positive ways including the use of technology.  

2000 Charles Armstrong School redefined its purpose to continue to serve as a transition school for the purpose of educating more students.  

2003 The musical productions began being staged at the Bayside Theater in San Mateo to accommodate larger audiences.
Shown in photo: Bye Bye Birdie

2011Charles Armstrong School refurbished and updated the interior of the entire school with new classrooms and a researched based environments specifically designed for dyslexics.

2009-2015 Claudia Koochek, Head of School, had served the school with distinction since 1989.    

2015 Jessica Miller, Present Head of School 

 It is thanks to Dr. Wilbur Mattison, The Armstrong Memorial Foundation, and the tireless group of dedicated parents that Charles Armstrong School was born. Dr. Mattison, for whom many is a familiar face around the School, is Emeritus Chairman of the CAS Board of Trustees, having served as its President for over 28 years. He has been instrumental in the school's evolution from its beginnings in a small home in Menlo Park to its current location in Belmont and its reputation as a recognized school for the dyslexic learner. The success of the school reflects the tireless and dedicated service by the teachers, adminisitrative staff and trustees. Over the years, the school has been honored to be served by trustees who exhibited an extraordinary degree of committment to the succes of the school.          

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Charles Armstrong School
1405 Solana Drive
Belmont, CA 94002

Main Line: 650-592-7570

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Fax: 650-591-3114