Riverview School was founded in 1957 by Mr. William Janse, a visionary educator who believed that students with learning challenges could be taught to read, write, and realize their potential if given appropriate individual attention and hands-on learning experiences. With that in mind, he and his partner, Mr. Burgess Butler, opened a summer camp on a 5-acre tract that was later expanded into the present 16-acre campus. The camp was so successful that the parents of the campers prevailed on Mr. Janse to open a school. The young people stayed for the school year, and the institution was established under its original name, Hopefields School.
From its beginning, Riverview developed and sustained a progressive program and did so before the field of learning disabilities was defined. The evolution of the School has reflected the growing understanding of people with intellectual disabilities among educators, medical and social service professionals, government agencies, and society in general.
Riverview is proud to hold the first license issued by the Massachusetts Office for Children to operate a special needs boarding school. Prior to the definition of the term "learning disability" in 1963, students were often misdiagnosed, misplaced and ineffectively served by school systems and related institutions. Riverview has contributed greatly to changing this negative trend.
During the late 1960s, Riverview established a long-term relationship with the Learning Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Groundbreaking work in language and reading disabilities was developed and field-tested on Riverview's campus. Throughout the decade, the School experienced important development of its physical property and program. A library, gymnasium, classrooms and dormitories were constructed from 1961 through 1967 on the 16-acre campus.
Over the ensuing decades, program enhancements included the initiation of a transition program (for students ages 18-22), Getting Ready for the Outside World (GROW). The program opened 3 residences for its students and formed an affiliation with Cape Cod Community College (Project Forward) in order to offer a vocationally-based college experience to students. More recently, major initiatives have included a redesign of the curriculum and assessment procedures at all levels, introduction of research-based instructional strategies, and the implementation of detailed transition planning. Music, art, and drama have also been expanded greatly.
Today, Riverview School serves approximately 180 students ages 11 to 22 with language, learning and intellectual disabilities (within the 65-90 IQ range) from 20 states and 9 foreign countries as well as the Cape Cod community. The School is committed to developing student competence and confidence in academic, social, and independent living skills.