The Gillen Brewer School was founded in 1992 by Laura Bilicic and Laurie Dubos as a school for children with significant learning challenges. As special education teachers, they saw the overwhelming need for a school in New York City where families with children who have significant special needs would be welcomed, educated and supported. The founders believed that a knowledgeable and informed family was invaluable to each child’s overall education. To underscore the importance of family, the school was named after the founders’ grandmothers, Mattie Gillen and Virginia Brewer. The school opened in 1992 with one student and added classes until it reached 48 students from Pre-K through second grade. Forty-eight students were housed in what had once been the servants’ quarters of a stately mansion on Park Avenue. It soon became apparent that more room was needed, not only to accommodate more students, but also to house the ever expanding academic and therapeutic programs. In 2003, under the leadership of Board Chairman Henry B. Schacht and newly appointed Head of School, Donna Kennedy, the school began a search for a new location. In August 2005, the school moved to its current location at 410 East 92nd Street. The school currently has 90 students and 60 staff.
Gillen Brewer’s facility, in The Henry B. Schacht Learning Center, provides a state-of-the-art, handicap-accessible facility. The new facility houses nine classrooms, ten therapy rooms, two sensory gyms, a library, an art studio, a music and science room, a roof top play terrace, a nurse’s office and administrative offices. The space was designed to meet the needs of children with sensory and learning issues.
"We are ever so grateful for the support and tools that were provided to our son throughout the years of his attendance at Gillen Brewer. It is evidence that your school's mission has been achieved and continues to impact the lives of students well after they have left the school.”
an alumni parent
Soon after moving into the new space, it was clear additional space was needed to provide our students with an appropriate sports program. Beginning in 2007, we began a partnership with Asphalt Green, a sports and fitness organization located two blocks away, which has allowed us to use their facilities and staff. Each year our students are provided with at least three different sports activities, including basketball, soccer, gymnastics, martial arts, yoga and swimming. The school also has a relationship with the Art Farm, located around the corner, to work with our full-time science teacher and supplement our science program by bringing animals into the school.