Our History Wall

An Inspired Graduate

The Texas Scottish Rite Hospital’s Pediatric Neurology Division initiated a cutting edge language therapy program designed to teach dyslexic students how to read. The program, utilizing the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading and spelling, focused on one-to-one student/teacher interaction. Among the program’s first graduates was Mary Ann Key, who was encouraged to attend by pediatrician John Richardson, M.D.


A Historic Partnership

Mrs. Key and fellow teacher Mildred Gardner opened Key School’s doors for the first time as a Summer Program for ten students in a Sunday School room in University Baptist Church. Glenna Odom, speech pathologist, was approached to advise the new program and became a valuable asset to the Summer Program and later the regular school.


A Time of Growth

In addition to the Summer Program and the six week SAT Prep course, in 1980 Key School began offering regular school for young adults that had suffered from head injuries. The program was designed to meet the individual needs of students throughout the DFW Metroplex.


Even More Growth

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools evaluated the standards and programs of Key School and awarded accreditation which continues today.

The launch of the preschool program which was focused on early childhood development occurred as well. It was developed and run by Nancy Spencer and Linda Berg who were both Key School attendees and teachers.


Working with the FWISD

In 1984, Key School acted as consultants for the Fort Worth Independent School District to incorporate the Key School methods of teaching study skills into the regular middle school social studies curriculum. After teaching in these classrooms for six weeks as well as 40 hours of in-service conducted by Key School teachers, FWISD permanently incorporated the curriculum written by Key School into the Social Studies scope and sequence.



In 1986, Key School made the decision to no longer maintain a separate Head Injury Division. The students with academic potential were mainstreamed into the regular Key School classes and Key School was restructured into the Winter Program and Summer Program.


Time to Find a Home

At first, the school was held in many temporary locations, including churches and even Mrs. Key’s own house, but in 1996 Key School moved into its own location. Robert McCaslin’s children were students at that time, and he offered Mrs. Key the building that would house Key School for 25 years. Since the school did not group by grade and had an individualized academic plan for each student, the building at Loop 820 worked nicely.

The First Key School graduating class celebrated their graduation. Since that time, over 170 students have graduated from Key School. Our graduation ceremonies are unique in that each student gives a speech and recognizes family and faculty who helped them to get to this point.


A Change of Status

A new charitable and educational 501C(3) organization, The New Key School, was formed to acquire and transition Key School into a non-profit status. Key School began offering tuition assistance to low-income students.


Fundraising Begins

Key School began their annual dinner and auction in order to raise funds for financial aid and other needed programs.


Fundraising Gets a Face

A Development Department with a part-time development staff member to raise money for financial aid and other program support was added to the growing needs of the school.


Passing the Torch

Kerri Benson became the Director of Key School following the retirement of founder, Mary Ann Key. She led the organization through much growth before leaving in 2020. With Kerri’s leadership, Key School implemented a Strategic Plan in order to develop a vision for Key School’s growth.


Happy Anniversary

Key School celebrated their 50th Anniversary Gala with a unique Academic Decathlon event honoring the legacy of Mary Ann Key and raising nearly $100,000 to support their programs.


Major Expansion

Key School launched the Planting Seeds Capital Campaign. Carla Brumley Brown, the Board Chair and Capital Campaign Co-chair, helped to raise money for a new building. The school expanded to become The Key Center for Learning Differences and added the Key School Academic Language Training Program. Leslie Vasquez became the Director of Key School.


Honoring a Founder

Dr. John M. Richardson, Founding Father of Key School passed away in 2019. Later that year, Key Center hosted a luncheon to celebrate his legacy where it was revealed that the new campus would be named: The John M. Richardson Campus.

Another milestone in 2019 was the Key School mascot. After a school-wide vote, the Key School Knights were officially born.


A Hard Year

The world shuts down during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Key School kept supporting their students. The Key Core Online Program supported students who needed an online school – with students logging in from Colorado and even Massachusetts. The program lasted two years and was discontinued after most schools resumed full-time, in-person school. The Key School Academic Language Therapy program began their first cohort of five educators who began their two-year journey to become Academic Language Therapists.

In addition, the founder, Mary Ann Key, passed away. She was among the first in the city to teach dyslexic students. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma, a master's from Texas Christian University, and certifications from Scottish Rite Hospital Language Training Unit as a Certified Academic Language Therapist.


A New Home

Key Center purchased property on John T. White Road in March 2021 after raising $10.6 million from the Planting Seeds Capital Campaign. The space was designed and renovated, and in September the students held their first classes in the new building. The modern building includes a two-story school and third-floor Training Center located on a 12-acre campus.

During the summer of 2021, Key Center welcomed Dr. Melanie Royal who served as both the Executive Director and later the Director of the Training Center.


Class of 2022

The Class of 2022 became the first class to graduate on the new campus. Together, these students received $340,000 in college scholarships and made a lasting impact on students at Key for years to come.

In the fall of that year, the leadership team and Board of Directors went through a branding exercise and through their work, officially changed the name to the Key School and Training Center. Additionally, Beth Lamb, APR, came on as the Executive Director giving the organization new leadership as it moves forward in the new building.


The supporting educational environment at Key School caters to the unique identity of each student and focuses on them as an individual rather than just their learning differences.