The Elevating our Impact capital project for the construction of a new middle school building is a direct response to immediate and growing needs.
Hamlin Robinson School fulfills its mission to ignite the academic and creative potential of students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences through its school programs for enrolled students and its Learning Center programs for the local, regional, and national community.
Enrollment numbers have tripled since 2010, including steady growth since the move to our new campus in 2015. This growth is attributable to several factors including increased community awareness of HRS programs, growing recognition of language-based learning differences, and available classroom capacity at the HRS campus.
However, the number one reason for exponential growth at HRS is our reputation for effective literacy instruction and highly skilled teaching.
The demand for urgently needed services from the school and the HRS Learning Center has significantly outpaced what can be provided by current facilities. HRS opened its new campus in 2015, with a goal to reach projected capacity of 275 students in ten years. The school hit this number in five years and stretched capacity to 316 students. HRS maintains a lengthy waitlist which is a constant reminder that students who desperately need our program cannot enroll. The HRS Learning Center, housed in the current facility, also outgrew its space, preventing maximum implementation of much-needed tutoring, screening, and educational services to the regional and national community.
The Elevating our Impact capital project is a direct response to these immediate and growing needs.
In 2019, HRS announced the purchase of the Oberto property along Rainier Avenue to the east of the school. In June of that year, the HRS Board of Trustees voted to build a new middle school with an expanded Learning Center on the property. The new building is scheduled to open for the 2022-23 school year.
The 4-story building will increase access to HRS educational programs. Students attend HRS from over 60 different ZIP codes, often choosing the school due to an inability to find a more local instructional program for their learning needs.
The new middle school will increase access by adding enrollment spots, totaling 225 middle school students. Expanding the campus will also benefit younger students by increasing enrollment opportunities in the current facility for students in grades 1-5 to 275 students.
The new building will devote an entire floor to the HRS Learning Center. Increased space will allow for expansion of tutoring services. The Learning Center also offers educational workshops, summer programs, live and virtual events, the HRS speaker series, and teacher training, all of which will benefit from the conference center housed in the new building.
There is NO question the need for HRS and the Learning Center will continue to grow. Not only has awareness of dyslexia increased societally, but legislation was passed to act upon this awareness. The WA State Legislature passed Senate Bill 6162, requiring dyslexia screening for students in grades K-2, beginning in 2021. HRS anticipates as many as 15,000 students at each grade level statewide may be identified as having a language-based learning difference. The new facility will allow us greater opportunity.
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW?
We are excited to begin construction soon - as we start to mobilize resources. In late March, Oberto announced this update about the Rainier Factory Store location on their website. We are deeply grateful to the Oberto family for their support and partnership throughout this process. You can read more about it here.
Our volunteer capital campaign cabinet has been hard at work behind the scenes to fundraise for this important and much-needed project. Mary Seifred took the lead as Chair in the early phase of the campaign and served as a tireless and passionate advocate on behalf of the school helping secure a foundation for success. She handed the reins to Mark Fordham in December. Mark has been a long-time member of the HRS community and has, time and again, stepped forward to provide steady leadership as the school has expanded and grown. We recently had the opportunity to meet with Mark to learn more about his involvement with HRS.
Q+A WITH MARK FORDHAM
What makes the HRS mission meaningful to you?
Mark: Hamlin Robinson is uniquely placed to meet an underserved community and the outcome of receiving an education at the school changes the life trajectory of the family and student. Unfortunately, it is because there is an unmet need in serving students with dyslexia and other language-based learning differences that HRS exists and is thriving. HRS has the opportunity to influence others and transform lives.
Why did you get involved with HRS and what makes this different for you?
Mark: In truth, I get a great deal of personal satisfaction in my volunteer work with HRS. The goodness rubs off – we are doing amazing work and creating transformative outcomes with our program. In many ways, HRS saved my son – he needed care and he needed a thoughtful educational program. Without HRS, his outcome would have been much different, not in a good way. HRS truly delivers on its mission. Not every organization can say that.
What motivates you?
Mark: One day, before COVID, Stacy Turner invited me to come to the school and greet the students in the morning as they entered the building. I was honestly overwhelmed by the energy, the joy, the excitement and happiness I saw in them as they entered the building. To know where they came from, to understand the struggles they encountered before HRS, to realize they are now excited about and having fun learning; that is what motivates me. Every student should feel this way about school.
What are you most excited about in the new building?
Mark: I am thrilled this building is dedicated to middle school students. To have the opportunity to ensure they are prepared for high school and beyond, that’s pretty exciting. In addition, to know the project is supported by the community, our neighbors, the Oberto family; it pays respect to Seattle and honors the history of our city. The Oberto family is a legacy in Seattle. I love that.
What do you hope happens to HRS next?
Mark: HRS has so much runway! Truly, we are only limited by our own aspirations. HRS is uniquely positioned to be an active advocate and leader in this space, and we continue to build a program in high demand because of our reputation and record of success with students who learn differently. We are the only school in the region serving this community which presents unlimited opportunity.