Mount Pleasant Academy is a program of Family Service of RI (FSRI). Family Service of Rhode Island, Inc., is a non-profit organization that provides a wide array of social, medical and educational services to primarily low-income children, adults and families in every Rhode Island community, and in Massachusetts and Connecticut communities along the Rhode Island border. It was founded in 1892, which makes it one of the oldest non-profit agencies in Rhode Island.
In January 2000, FSRI hired Jeffrey Brusini to create a day treatment facility for children with emotional and behavioral challenges. The facility was to be based in Providence. In the ten years prior, Dr. Brusini had been the director of a small private school for children with similar needs in Warwick, RI.
Dr. Brusini began a property search within the City, and at the same time began developing the structure and plan for a cutting-edge program designed to support children with behavioral, emotional and learning challenges, as well as their families.
In the spring of 2000, we located a piece of property in the Mount Pleasant section of the City. The building, originally built in 1858, had been one of the City’s elementary schools for over a century. Mount Pleasant Elementary School (also known as “Little Mount Pleasant”) served primarily kindergarten and first-graders. The City eventually closed Little Mount Pleasant and sold the building in the late 1970’s to private developers, who renovated the building several times.
FSRI purchased the building in the fall of 2000, and began working with French Design & Build to return the building to use as a school. In the mean time, Dr. Brusini hired Joan Colwell, recently retired director of special education for the Town of East Greenwich, to serve as the new school’s director of education.
Mount Pleasant Academy opened for business on September 20, 2001. That was the first day a student was actually taught “in the building.” (Senior staff may remember that we had actually accepted students a few days prior to the building being ready, so we ended up having class at their homes, on the playground, and now and then in a vehicle!). We originally opened for students in grades 2-5, and each subsequent year added a grade. The “official” grand opening was held a little later, in November 2001.
In 2008, we renovated our ground floor to provide additional learning space for MPA students. Also in 2008, we partnered with the City of Providence and obtained grant funding to renovate and update the George West playground, which is adjacent to MPA.
As of the fall of 2017, MPA is now in its 17th year, licensed for grades Pre-K-8, and has served hundreds and hundreds of children and families from RI and surrounding states.
Architectural plans for a renovation in the 1970’s
MPA’s 3rd floor—before being transformed
1st floor Reception and Play Area during construction
Early stages of Classroom 1B