When their son, Jeffrey, was 8 or 9, Phyllis and Leonard J. Attman noticed he was struggling with reading. “We kept flipping him from school to school,” recalled Leonard Attman. “The schools said they knew how to help him, but none of them actually had that specialty.”
It was the early 1970s, and many educators misunderstood children like Jeffrey. “Sometimes, teachers would assume he had ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] or that the problem was behavioral,” said Attman. But an evaluation revealed that Jeffrey had dyslexia, a language-based learning difference that causes difficulty with reading, writing and spelling in otherwise bright and talented students.
Determined to help Jeffrey and other children with dyslexia, the Attmans in 1973 helped to found The School at Jemicy Farm (now Jemicy).
Nearly 45 years later, the Attmans remain deeply involved with the independent school, recently donating a “significant gift” to complete construction of Jemicy’s new Phyllis & Leonard J. Attman Family and Alumni Center.
The building, which contains a new lower and middle school gym, lunchroom and multi-purpose space, is located on the school’s lower/middle school campus at 11 Celadon Road in Owings Mills. It completes Jemicy’s “Step Forward” campaign initiated in 2012 and was dedicated in a ceremony on the Jemicy campus held last night Sept. 14.
As Jemicy Head of School Ben Shifrin explained, “In the final phase of the ‘Step Forward’ campaign, Jemicy challenged its Alumni Association to donate the $1 million needed to build the new spaces. The alumni raised a substantial portion of that amount, and The Phyllis & Leonard J. Attman Family enabled the school to meet its fundraising goal by contributing a significant gift.”
The Attman family and Jemicy alumni share naming rights to the gym.
“The Attmans are such good people,” said Shifrin. “They absolutely made dreams come true for kids at Jemicy.”
For the Attmans, “it’s not about the money,” said Leonard Attman. After all, five of their grandchildren are Jemicy graduates.
“All have excelled and graduated from great universities, and each one credits Jemicy with their success,” he said. “The children at Jemicy are very smart. They are very accomplished in the arts and athletics. They just need someone to teach them in their own way. The small classes at Jemicy make a difference. They allow the children to learn and feel good about themselves.”
Today, Jemicy serves 380 students from grades 1-12 on its two Owings Mills campuses. (Its upper school is located at 11202 Garrison Forest Road.) In 2016, Jemicy became the first school in the nation to be accredited by the International Dyslexia Association.
Attman credited Shifrin with the school’s continued success. “His personal dedication has moved the school into a whole other sphere of excellence,” said Attman.
Photo by Steve Ruark
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