Mt. Pleasant Blythedale School Celebrates its 50th Anniversary
Day Hospital renamed in loving memory of its founder, former Blythedale president Robert Stone.
"Today we are celebrating 50 years of educating children while their bodies heal, and I am honored to share with you our story," said Dr. Emily Hersh, superintendent of the Mt. Pleasant Blythedale School, in her opening remarks. "
Education has been a critical part of Blythedale’s mission from its earliest days. In 1919, Blythedale’s “school” was an annex of P.S. 192 in Manhattan and averaged 18 children in each of two classes – one for kindergarten and first grade, and another dedicated to grades two through nine. Over the years, a bedside teacher was added, and in 1941, a high school teacher was brought in to meet the needs of the older children.
In 1971, under Bob Stone's guidance, Blythedale’s school was officially organized by the NYS legislature as the Mt. Pleasant Blythedale UFSD - a special act public school district, uniquely created to serve the highly specialized needs of Blythedale’s patients. Blythedale Children's Hospital remains the only hospital in New York State with its own public school district on site.
During the virtual ceremony, Blythedale President and CEO Larry Levine announced the naming of Blythedale's Day Hospital in Bob's memory.
"Today, it is my distinct privilege to announce that we have renamed our Day Hospital, The Robert Stone Day Hospital, in honor of his transformative vision," he said. "All who walk through these doors will be reminded of the enduring legacy of this extraordinary man, who paved the way for countless children to achieve dreams that previously seemed unreachable."
In addition to the new signage that bears his name, there now also hangs a plaque near the Hospital's main entrance that tells all who enter the Hospital the story of the man who dared to dream big for medically fragile children.
"Dad loved Blythedale; it was part of who he was," said Lesley Stone. "I like to think that Dad nurtured Blythedale over 40 years, giving it roots as it developed into a mature children's hospital, complete with an on-site school. And Larry Levine and the rest of the Blythedale staff have done a wonderful job of steering Blythedale into the 21st century."
Many special guests participated in the ceremony, including Blythedale Board Chair Scott Levy, School Board Vice Chair Owen Gutfreund, NYS Regent Fran Wills, and Scott Barber, an alumnus. Several NYS legislators were also on hand to share their well wishes, including, Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins, Senator Shelley Mayer, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Senator Pete Harckham, Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, and Westchester County Executive George Latimer.
Today, more than 130 children in grades K through 12, who require intensive rehabilitation and medical care, attend school either as inpatients or through Blythedale’s Day Hospital Program. Preschoolers receive services through a Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) program or the Hospital’s Early Childhood Center. Through the Day Hospital program, children receive daily medical and nursing care, physical, occupational and/or speech therapy, as well as appropriate medical consultation based on an individualized treatment plan.