Our History

The Sunshine School and Development Center has been serving NWA for over 50 years. The inaugural class was held in the basement of the First United Methodist Church in Rogers and consisted of two children, one with Down’s syndrome and the other with a severe brain injury resulting in developmental delays. In 1958 the public education system didn’t have a place for children with special needs. The families of these two children – the Clardy’s and the Briley’s – needed a place for their own children to learn, so they started Sunshine School. Mrs. Clardy and Mrs. Briley were the teachers. By the end of the first month six more children had joined.

In 1961, through the generosity of friends and neighbors, a new building was built for the Sunshine School in Vaughn, AR. For 30 years young people went through the doors in Vaughn and graduated with skills that would serve them throughout life.

After multiple moves to serve the growing class sizes and needs of the community, a new idea began to take shape. In 1991 the public school system began integrating developmentally disabled children into the classrooms. In response, the Sunshine School started to focus on programs which included Early Intervention, Community Support, and a Preschool Center. These programs catered to individuals in the community of ALL ages with developmental delays. The school continued to grow exponentially and soon outgrew its facilities. Once again, through the generosity and care of the community, another facility was funded. In January 2007 the school moved to the current 40,000 square foot facility where over 500 people a year are helped. To better reflect the diversity of the ages and the abilities of the clients served now, the name of the school was changed to the Sunshine School and Development Center in 2013.

Call us at 479-636-3190 Ext.117 if you have any questions or would like a tour. We’d love to have you!

Executive Team

Cyndi Bilyeu
CEO
Jill Kleinebreil
Director of Special Programs

 

 

Board of Directors

Sharita Patterson Rodriguez – President
Soner Senlikci – Vice President
Clay Conly – Secretary
Kelly Sikorski – Treasurer

Kluane Billings
Brad Blankenship
Al Coffman
Rob Husong
Elizabeth R. Lorah
Greg Parker
Michael Reed
Ryan Scott
Michael Sevart
Chris Slead
Jon Williams

Emeritus Directors:

Dr. Barry Allen
Doug McMillon

Ray of Sunshine Foundation Board:

Al Dominguez
Ted Fox
Paul Mahan
Debbie Matteri
George Spence