Watson Institute opens in South Fayette
Nearly a year-and-a-half since breaking ground on an 18.5-acre parcel on the former El Rancho park site in South Fayette Township, the Watson Institute opened its 47,000-square-foot facility Jan. 18.
The school, which runs on a similar schedule with local districts but includes a summer program, focuses and helps students with autism, spectrum disorders, neurological impairments and serious emotional challenges.
“We see ourselves as an extension of the public school system to provide the most appropriate care and education for children,” president and CEO of Watson Institute Barry Bohn said. “We focus on the specific need of a child. Every need is different. Every degree of special education is different.”
Watson Institute also operates locations in Pittsburgh and Sharpsburg; however, was forced to rent a building in Ambridge last year to fully service its 260 students at its Sewickley location.
The new center along Hickory Grade Road has 14 classrooms and can serve up to 120 children. It is serving 30 different districts throughout the tri-state region with the eventual hope of that number eclipsing more than 60.
“To see it come together was a really special experience,” Bohn said. “We were serving a lot of children from the south of Pittsburgh and a lot of kids were traveling 45 minutes to an hour to get to our other location. It makes things so much more convenient. It’s wonderful to be in a community like South Fayette.”
According to Bohn, the Watson Institute has seen a strong presence of students from districts in the region, including South Fayette, Bethel Park, Chartiers Valley, Canon-McMillan and Peters Township all have added to the increasing enrollments.
It’s an identity that has a great, strong mission,” township manager Ryan Eggleston said. “They want to be a great community partner and we are very excited to have them in South Fayette. They’ve been great to work with. We are looking forward to having a relationship with them for many years.”