Hamlin Robinson School has been at the forefront of serving students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences for decades. We are the only non-profit school in Washington, and one of the few in the United States, dedicated to this learning community. Founded in 1983 by the Slingerland® Institute and the Robinson family, HRS has operated independently since the fall of 1986. HRS has grown from its first class of eleven children to serving students in first through eighth grade. Over 1,400 students have attended the school since its doors opened. After occupying four different locations, HRS moved to the North Beacon Hill location in June, 2015.
The HRS Learning Center was launched in 2012 to extend our community reach. In the first year of operation, the Learning Center received the "Best of Washington Innovative Program Award" from the Washington Federation of Independent Schools.
The Story of Mary Helen Robinson
Many people ask about the origins of the name “Hamlin Robinson School.” This name carries a rich history, with links to the premiere researchers and developers of both individually-focused and classroom-based multisensory instruction. The story begins, however, with its most pivotal figure, Mary Helen Robinson.
Mary Helen was born in Yakima, WA, and attended the University of Washington in the 1930s, where she developed a life-long passion for helping others learn to read. After moving to New York with her husband Hamlin in 1939, she literally knocked on the door of Dr. Samuel Orton, a pioneer in the study of learning disabilities, to make his acquaintance. This meeting led to a job and the opportunity to learn the Orton method of teaching from its creator. Dr. Orton later teamed with Anna Gillingham to create the Orton-Gillingham method of multisensory learning instruction. This method is still widely used for individual instruction.
In 1949, she helped found The Orton Society, now known as the International Dyslexia Association. Both Mary Helen and Hamlin became friends with Beth Slingerland and involved with the Slingerland Institute®, where Hamlin served on the board and Mary Helen continued her work with dyslexic students. The Slingerland Institute® took the individual focus of Orton-Gillingham into a classroom approach for multisensory learning.
After Hamlin’s death in 1982, the Robinson family received enough donations to spur Mary Helen, along with Beth Slingerland and others, to open a school dedicated to serving children with language learning challenges. While Hamlin Robinson School bears the name of her strongly supportive husband, its founding is Mary Helen’s legacy.