History - The Children's Guild


A Tradition of Innovation

Since its founding in 1953, The Children’s Guild has been an innovator in providing services for children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral and mental disorders. It has grown from a one-room preschool to serving thousands of children and their families, through special education and charter schools, school-based mental health services, treatment foster care, group care, and training and consultation. The Children’s Guild’s tradition of leadership in special education and care of behavior-disordered students continues today.

1953 – Founding of The Children’s Guild

The Children’s Guild pioneers the idea of helping preschool-aged children with emotional problems and challenges the prevailing belief that these children had no emotions and could not benefit from psychological intervention. Dr. Leo Kanner, father of child psychiatry and the discoverer of childhood autism; Dr. Matthew Debuskey, pediatrician; and Sadie Dashew Ginsberg, prominent child advocate, found The Children’s Guild after creating a study group to learn about children with emotional difficulties. The founders describe the organization as “an experiment in mental hygiene to alleviate behavior difficulties in children before they become serious maladjustments.”

1955 – Achieves Nonprofit Status and First Press Coverage

The Children’s Guild achieves nonprofit status as a private preschool serving Baltimore-area preschool-aged children. The Children’s Guild also receives its first of many feature articles in The Evening Sun and other Baltimore-area newspapers, which educate the public about children’s mental health issues.

1956 – Move to Greenspring Ave.

From a room at cofounder Dr. Matthew Debuskey’s office, The Children’s Guild’s nursery school opens on the grounds of the Children’s Hospital School on Greenspring Ave. in Baltimore, with financial assistance from the Altrua Guild, the Royal Sisters Society of Baltimore, the Forrest Park Child Study Group, and the Community Chest, which provides funding to The Guild in future years.

1958 – First Annual Training Conference

The Children’s Guild hosts the first of its annual training sessions and forums on child behavioral issues. Over the years, the sessions feature many leading physicians and experts in the field of child psychiatry and mental health.

1960 – First Award

The Health and Welfare Council honors The Children’s Guild with its annual Organization Achievement Award, touting, “There’s no other agency in Maryland performing a similar service for emotionally disabled preschool children.”

1962 – First Teaching Partnership Created

The Children’s Guild partners with the University of Maryland School of Nursing, creating a first-ever two-year graduate program to train psychiatric nurse specialists for children.

1966 – First to Receive Baltimore City Health Commission Funding

The Baltimore City Health Commission provides $75,000 to The Children’s Guild to create a new facility, the first-ever mental health care program for children funded by the city. Through arrangements with the State Department of Mental Hygiene, The Children’s Guild becomes a participating agency in the training of psychiatric residents.

1970s – Education of All Handicapped Children Act Changes Services

In 1975, U.S. Congress passes Public Law 94-142, The Education of All Handicapped Children Act, mandating an “appropriate education for all children regardless of handicapping condition.” With the law’s passage, The Children’s Guild becomes an interdisciplinary agency, providing mental health services and special education for high-intensity need and emotionally disabled children referred through the public school system. The Guild’s student population grows rapidly, and the ages and characteristics of the children it serves change dramatically.

The Children’s Guild moves from Greenspring Ave. to Mt. Washington and leases a school building owned by the Sisters of Mercy.

1980s – Leadership

The Children’s Guild Executive Director, Stanley Mopsik, leads the effort to create an organizational structure to foster the expansion of Maryland nonpublic schools for children with special needs statewide. He participates in the founding of the National Association of Private Schools for Exceptional Children, enabling private schools to lobby for federal legislation to support children with special needs. In 1986, The Guild establishes the first therapeutic group home in Maryland for emotionally disabled adolescents, named Kanner House after one of the agency’s founders Dr. Leo Kanner.

In 1986, the Sisters of Mercy sell its school to USF&G, necessitating The Children’s Guild to relocate to its current headquarters in Baltimore at 6802 McClean Blvd.

1994 – First Public/Private School Partnership Created

Under Executive Director Stanley Mopsik’s continued leadership, The Children’s Guild creates the first public/private school partnership in Maryland to serve seriously emotionally disturbed students who could not be educated in a public school. The cost-effective partnership makes it easier for local school systems to maintain involvement with the children referred to The Children’s Guild. The success of this partnership leads to expansion of these partnerships throughout Maryland.

1995 – 2000 – Transformation Education Begins

Dr. Andrew L. Ross succeeds retiring CEO Stanley Mopsik as The Children’s Guild’s new president. Dr. Ross, with colleague Gary Grenier, executive director of The Lincoln Center in Philadelphia, had discovered that culture is an elemental force in promoting change and growth in emotionally troubled children. This discovery in 1983 was brought to The Children’s Guild by Dr. Ross. Evaluation results demonstrate that culture, if consciously shaped, can be extremely effective in transforming the behavior of emotionally disturbed children and motivating them to learn. This discovery leads to The Children’s Guild initiating Transformation Education (TranZed), a new approach to educating and re-socializing emotionally disturbed children.

1996 – 1998 – New Special Education Schools

The Children’s Guild opens a school in Annapolis, Md., in 1996, and a school in Chillum, Md., in 1998, becoming one of the largest providers of nonpublic special education in Maryland.

1999 – First Maryland Schools Nationally Accredited for Special Education

The Children’s Guild’s Baltimore and Annapolis campuses become the first nonpublic special education schools in Maryland to achieve accreditation from the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services. The Guild begins taking its expertise into the public schools by providing the support services necessary for emotionally disturbed children to participate in an after-school program at Govans Elementary School.

2000 – New Master’s Degree Training Partnership Established

The Children’s Guild partners with George Washington University to create a professional development school for training master’s degree candidates in special education.

2005 – First Book on Transformation Education

The Children’s Guild President Dr. Andrew L. Ross and Executive Vice President Frank Kros, with Lincoln Center Executive Director Gary Grenier, publish the first book on Transformation Education, “Creating the Upside Down Organization: Transforming Staff to Save Troubled Children.”

2006 – Upside Down Organization Created

The Children’s Guild creates The Upside Down Organization (UDO), which provides child-serving organizations and professionals with cutting-edge, research-based learning experiences based on Transformation Education (TranZed). UDO’s reach soon becomes international, as it brings workshops, consultations, and other learning experiences to organizations around the globe.

2007 – Launch of Treatment Foster Care Program and a Second University Partnership

The Children’s Guild launches its treatment foster care program for children who have complex problems and are difficult for a regular foster home to manage. Many of the children are challenging because they have experienced abuse and neglect and they exhibit disordered behaviors.

The Guild begins its second university partnership with Loyola College.

2008 – The National Children’s Guild Fund Established

The National Children’s Guild Fund (NCGF) is established to transform schools and other child-serving organizations nationwide to be more child-centered through its philosophy of Transformation Education.

2009 – Restructuring, Expansion of Services, and Second Book Published

A multi-corporate structure was created under the umbrella of The Children’s Guild Institute, known as TranZed Alliance, laying the groundwork for future expansion and organizational growth. In August 2009, The Children’s Guild celebrated the opening of its first public charter school, Monarch Academy Glen Burnie, with kindergarten- fifth grades. In addition, The Children’s Guild Family Help Center expanded services, serving students in schools in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties. The Children’s Guild published its second book “The Upside Down Organization: Reinventing Group Care.”

2010 - Monarch Academy Glen Burnie Expands to Include Middle School.

2011 - Monarch Academy Baltimore and The Children’s Guild School of Baltimore open in Baltimore locations

The beginning of the second decade of the 21st century marks the opening of our second charter school Monarch Academy Baltimore on McClean Boulevard to serve the children of Baltimore City. The Children’s Guild also purchased from the Archdioceses of Baltimore The St. Rose of Lima School in South Baltimore and after a complete renovation opened its new Baltimore special education campus in fall 2011. This campus is consolidating students from its Anne Arundel Campus and Baltimore Campus into one facility. The girls group living home (The Academy) was renamed Staffa House in memory of staff member Bill Staffa.

2012 - Schools Move and Expand, the Janet and Frank Kelly Autism Center opens, and the McClean Campus Becomes the Corporate Headquarters.

The Baltimore and Annapolis campuses of The Children’s Guild combine schools in a new facility in the Brooklyn section of Baltimore City and open the Janet and Frank Kelly Autism Center.  Also, as part of the Janet and Frank Kelly Autism Center, the Prince George’s campus opens an autism high school. Monarch Academy Baltimore moves into temporary space on Fremont Avenue while awaiting the completion of construction of its permanent home on 2525 Kirk Avenue in the former Coca-Cola Building, where it will move for the 2013 academic year and serve 1,000 students. Monarch Academy Glen Burnie expands its space to serve 660 students completing a middle school wing with a brain path, and opens a new state-of-the-art playground on its campus. The Children’s Guild is approved to open a contract school to be named Monarch Global Academy in Laurel, Md., for the 2014 academic year. The school-based mental health program expands into additional schools in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties. The McClean campus is now the corporate headquarters for The Children’s Guild.

2013 - Our Conference Center Opens

Our Conference Center opens on the McClean HQ campus, complete with a brain path. Monarch Academy Glen Burnie graduates its first 8th grade class.

2014 - The Children’s Guild Now Operates 60 school-based Mental Health Centers

The Children’s Guild expands its school-based mental health program to Prince George’s County. The Children’s Guild now operates 60 school-based mental health centers. The Children’s Guild also is granted a charter to establish a 450-student charter school to serve special education (60%) and general education students (40%) in Washington, DC. Monarch Global Academy opens in Laurel, Md, as a K-5 school public contract school.

2015 - TCGDC Opens

Our first charter school in the District of Columbia, The Children’s Guild District of Columbia Public Charter School, opens in the Northeast area of the city serving students from K-8 who live in the District of Columbia. Monarch Global Academy expands to middle school.

2016 - TranZed Apprenticeship Services Launches

TranZed Apprenticeship Services launches and offers non-traditional apprenticeships in such fields as information technology, digital and social media, cybersecurity, data science, analytics, coding, medical assistance,  and behavioral teaching aides. These apprenticeships offer industry recognized certifications critical to success.

2017 - Monarch Academy Annapolis Opens a Public Contract School in Annapolis

Monarch Academy Annapolis, a public contract school, serving students from K-5 opens in Annapolis. The school is housed in a beautifully renovated building, formerly home to The Capital Gazette.

2018 - The TranZed Academy for Working Teens (TAWS) Opens in Montgomery County.

The TranZed Academy for Working Students (TAWS) opens in Montgomery County. TAWS is designed for working seniors, and the student’s academic schedule is created to fit around their work obligations, ensuring that the student can stay on track for graduation. The Upside Down Organization changes its name to the Transformation Education Institute and now includes all internal and external training programs and seminars of the organization. University of Maryland selects The Children’s Guild to manage College Park Academy, a 650-student, grades 6-12, charter school in Maryland’s Prince George’s County. Monarch Academy Global Academy graduates its first 8th-grade class.

2019 - The Children’s Guild Scores a Home Run With its Partnership with League of Dreams and The TranZed Alliance is Rebranded as The Children’s Guild

The Children’s Guild and League of Dreams announce a formal partnership to provide all children regardless of their physical or mental ability, the opportunity to experience the joys, challenges, and personal growth from playing games of baseball and softball. The school-based Mental Health program expands into Howard County and now serves students in 80 schools in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Prince George’s, Cecil, and Howard counties and Baltimore City. TranZed Alliance changes its name to The Children’s Guild as part of a rebranding process. Additionally as part of the rebranding Monarch Global Academy becomes Monarch Global Academy Laurel; The Children’s Guild special education day schools are renamed The Children’s Guild School of Baltimore and The Children’s Guild School of Prince George’s County; the TranZed Apprenticeship Services name shortens to TranZed Apprenticeships; and The Conference Center is renamed the Conference Center at The Children’s Guild.

2020 – New Preschool and Going Digital

Monarch Preschool College Park to open in Prince George’s County. Monarch Academy Annapolis launches eSchool at Monarch Academy Annapolis as a full-time distance learning option for the 2020-21 school year to address the COVID-19 pandemic and students who are unable to return to a traditional school environment.

2021 – New Day School, New Pre-School and New CEO

The Children’s Guild – Transformation Academy in Baltimore opens. TA is a 12-month, non-public separate day school for students ages 5-21, whose primary diagnosis is autism. Students may also have co-existing diagnoses of sensory processing disorder, a specific learning disability, health impairment, or multiple disabilities.

Monarch Pre-school College Park opens in Prince George’s County, a high-quality, project‑based learning pre-kindergarten for children ages 3‑5.

After 26 years, Dr. Andrew Ross steps down as President and CEO and is succeeded by Jenny Livelli, who becomes the first female president and CEO of The Children’s Guild.

Additionally, Summer Transformation Theatre Camp opens at Monarch Academy Annapolis.

2022 – The Children's Guild Continues its Success

The Children’s Guild celebrated success in 2022 at both the leadership and school level. Monarch Academy Glen Burnie principal Kim Jakovics earned the Leader of the Year award from the Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools. Shae Johnson was named principal at Monarch Academy Annapolis, while Desiree Davis was appointed director of schools at The Children’s Guild School of Prince George’s County.

Monarch Academy Annapolis received the official International Baccalaureate (IB) authorization for the Primary Years Program after working several years toward the prestigious designation. To wrap up its overwhelmingly successful first year, Transformation Academy hosted a prom to rejoice with its amazing students and their families in style!

2023 – The Children’s Guild Moves its Headquarters

In January, The Children’s Guild relocated its headquarters from Baltimore, MD, to the NoMa district in Washington, DC. This move represents a strategic shift to expand the educational programs and cultivate new partnerships with regional and national organizations, enhance donor engagement, provide greater accessibility for staff and families, and bring valuable career opportunities to the NoMa neighborhood.
In December,  The Children’s Guild – Transformation Academy hosted Maryland Governor Wes Moore at a dedication ceremony for The Orokawa Foundation Playground, built through a state grant and the support of the nonprofit foundation. This brand-new outdoor sensory playground features 25 inclusive elements that use both standard and customized components for students and caregivers to experience together.

Other notable successes this year include the establishment of a vocational room at The Children’s Guild – Transformation Academy. The passage of Maryland Senate Bill 311 and the partnership with the Apprenticeships Department of Labor highlight the organization’s dedication to innovative education and community engagement.