Recognizing the need
A precursor of The Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences, The Monarch School was founded in 1997 in response to a critical need in our region—to serve students with neurological differences who required a program that provided cognitive, emotional and social development components. Before The Monarch School existed, many families were forced to send their children to residential, out-of-state schools.
Building the foundation
We conducted a feasibility study, comprised of research and focus groups that included educators, psychologists, parents and community members. We needed to affirm the need and determine if the Houston community would support its first therapeutic day school. The results were overwhelmingly positive, the need was great and the support was assured.
During the first year, Head of School Dr. Marty Webb and a Director of Development worked full time to lay the foundation for the school. We then formed an Executive Board from the four original co-founders. We recruited an Advisory Board of parents and community members and a Professional Advisory Board of psychologists, special educators, neurologists and psychiatrists. We developed a database of friends of the school, created a business plan and secured seed money through an annual fund, foundation grants and a gala fundraiser. Gradually, we hired a small but competent initial faculty. Our vision was beginning to take form.
But finding and securing a site proved an enormous challenge, which wasn’t solved until late in the spring of 1998. Just before the school was to open in August, we were able to lease ground space at the Houston Mennonite Church, where three modular buildings were placed. The next and equally formidable challenge was to educate the community about the opening—and uniqueness—of Houston’s first therapeutic day school.
We opened our doors in the fall of 1998 to 23 students. At that time, there were seven professional educators, three part-time psychologists, a secretary and a Development/Admissions Director. Evaluations at the end of the year were overwhelmingly positive, and community support for the school continued to grow dramatically.
Growing and expanding
Each year after, we grew in size and support. By the third year, enrollment had tripled. We were using all of our classrooms in the portable buildings, as well as all of the rooms in the Houston Mennonite Church. We had hoped to place additional portable buildings on the property, but zoning did not allow it. And so we looked for additional space and found it five blocks away in a business park. We renamed the original site our Apprentice Campus.
The Craig and Lee Williams Challenger Campus opened in the fall of 2001 after a summer of intense remodeling. The additional 7,000 sq. ft. included five classrooms, a woodshop, a fitness room, a large community meeting room and several offices. Two years later, we added an additional office suite for the Learning Center and the Life Academy, bringing the total space of the Challenger Campus to 10,000 sq. ft.
Beginning in the spring of 2002 and culminating in August of the same year, the co-founders who formed the original executive board resigned and were replaced by a board that included Dr. Webb and was more representative of the parents and community. We wrote new bylaws, and the board began taking a proactive role in strategic planning for the future.
Things looked bleak in 2005, when we lost our lease, but MetroNational Corporation stepped forward with a generous 90-year lease on 10.75 acres in Northwest Houston. Having this piece of land allowed us to begin an aggressive capital campaign, which resulted in the completion of the Chrysalis Building in August, 2009.
Building for the future
Phase II of the construction of the Butterfly Building and Monarch Center began in July 2012. The Butterfly Building was completed in September 2013 in time for the 2013-2014 school year. The Butterfly Building hosts the Challenger and Voyager levels. With the completion of the Butterfly Building, the Chrysalis Building now hosts our Novice and Apprentice levels.
Click here to learn more about our campus.
SACS CASI is the accreditation division of AdvancED—the parent organization for the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and the National Study of School Evaluation (NSSE). Their Quality Assurance Review Team visited Monarch and noted that we excelled in all accrediting standards in every category.
- ASESA: The Monarch School was first accredited by the Association for Specialized Elementary School Accreditation (ASESA) in April, 1999. This accrediting group was formed in Dallas to fill a specific need of elementary schools in specialized education. ASESA operates under a system of internal study and external examination—the same format most accrediting agencies use. A series of interim reviews are conducted, and re-examinations occur at five-year intervals.
- SACS: In June 2001,at the end of three full years of operation, we were eligible to apply for accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). After preparation and site visits, The Monarch School was officially awarded full accreditation on December 7, 2002, in a ceremony at the SACS annual meeting in San Antonio.
- The faculty members who represented Monarch at the ceremony were Dr. Marty Webb, Head of School; Dr. Neal Sarahan, Program Director of the Challenger and Voyager Levels; Dr. Debrah Hall, Program Director of the Novice and Apprentice Levels; Mr. John Barone, Director of Communications and Training Center; Ms. Colleen Russo, Community Programs Coordinator and Professional Educator-Mentor; and Mrs. Linda Caruso, Life Academy Coordinator.
- A beautiful plaque now hangs in the school office, proclaiming The Monarch School an accredited school for 2003 by the SACS Commission on Secondary and Middle Schools and the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation.
Marty Webb, Ed.D.
Executive Director Emerita
Marty Webb received her Ed.D. in private school leadership from The University of San Francisco in 1991. She holds a B.S. in special education from the University of Michigan and an M.Ed. in educational administration from Houston Baptist University. She has been a special education teacher, early childhood teacher, private tutor and a private school principal. From 1980-1997 she was principal of Corpus Christi Catholic School, which earned the United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon School Award. Marty also was honored as a distinguished principal by the National Society of Elementary School Principals.
In 1997, Marty founded The Monarch School and served as Head of School. In 2009 she also was appointed as Executive Director of the Monarch Institute. She retired from Monarch on July 1, 2012, and is serving as Executive Director Emerita. Marty’s energy and passion are directed toward completing the capital campaign and finishing an ambitious master plan for the Institute’s campus. Two more buildings await full funding in order for the Institute to grow. She invites anyone who shares her enthusiasm for helping Monarch to contact her!
Marty’s greatest professional joy is identifying, encouraging and mentoring others to step into positions of leadership at schools in which she is the Chief Learner. Like fellow Michigander Harry S. Firestone, she believes that “the growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” She believes that Monarch has been her greatest professional challenge and adventure, and she is grateful for all the educational settings and persons in her life who prepared her to undertake this remarkable endeavor.
Marty and her husband Eugene, a psychotherapist and author of seven books, are parents of four adult children and grandparents of 15 grandchildren and enjoy nothing more than being with them. In addition, she enjoys travel, needlework, camping, hiking, exercise and reading.
Monarch Awards and Nominations:
- 2015 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Award Finalist and People’s Choice Award
- 2014 NAPSEC Award for Leadership & Innovation in Special Education --
National Association of Private Special Education Centers
- 2014 Best of Green Schools -- K12 School or Campus-- The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
- Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2014 -- Monarch Founder Dr. Marty Webb -- Houston Woman Magazine
- 2014 LEED® Gold Level Certification--U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
- 2014 Mayor's Proud Partners Award --Keep Houston Beautiful
- 2014 Greater Houston Reuse Contest-1st Place –City of Houston
- Texas Private Schools Association (TPSA) featured School of the Month-January 2015
- 2011 Nominee for Houston West Chamber of Commerce Star Award
- 2010 LEED® Gold Level Certification--U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
- Designed to Earn the Energy Star
- Energy Star Rating, using Green-e®-certified green power since 2007
- 2010 Mental Health Association Award
- AGC Apex Award (Mission Constructors)
- School Planning & Management: Sustainability & Innovations Award
- E.P. Maxwell Sheffler Distinguished Service Award (Dr. Marty Webb, Founder and Head of School)
- Rotary District 5890 Be a Friend Award
- Texas Construction and ENR Best of 2010 Award
- 2010 Nominee for ULI Houston Development of Distinction Award
- About Us
- Support Monarch
- Parent Portal