Today that school is the Almansor Education Center, located in Alhambra, California. From this humble beginning and with the unwavering conviction of its founder, Nancy J. Lavelle, Ph.D., that all students were capable and able of being competent, caring, and contributing members of society, Almansor would become the Institute for the Redesign of Learning (IRL).
We now serve over 2,300 children and adults annually.
Setting aside traditional approaches that focused on “changing the behavior” of individuals with disabilities, Dr. Lavelle and her team emphasized “working in partnership” with learners, families, other professionals, and the community to create a learning ecology of mutual learning, mutual trust, and mutual respect.
In 1988, after outgrowing its first site, IRL moved to a former elementary school in South Pasadena. With the expanded space, Almansor Academy, a school for students with developmental and emotional challenges, and the Early Childhood Education program continued to thrive and flourish. Shortly thereafter, two additional sites in South Pasadena were added for the Transition and Adult Services and Community Outreach programs. IRL’s Clinical Services program soon provided mental health services not only at its two clinics in South Pasadena and the city of Commerce but also at over 100 public schools. In 2012, IRL established the Westmoreland Academy in Pasadena, a specialty school for students on the Autism Spectrum.
As a team of committed students/clients, parents and caregivers, professional and support staff, board members, and community supporters, we work together in a profound endeavor that has supported the success of thousands of individuals of all abilities throughout the course of over four decades—a mission we look forward to continuing for decades to come.
Meet The Team
Dr. Lavelle received her doctorate in Psychological Studies in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is also the principal author of Taking Charge® for Educators and Related Professionals: Linguistic Coaching for Special Needs and At-Risk Youth, and Taking Charge®: A Life Planning Partnership with At-Risk Youth. Dr. Lavelle has conducted over 300 workshops nationwide for parents, educators, and other professionals working with at-risk youth. She has served as a Review Panelist for the U.S. Department of Education National Exemplary School Recognition Program; the Council on American Private Education; as well as the Institute for At-Risk Infants, Children, Youth, and Their Families.
Dr. Lavelle has been a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Private Schools for Exceptional Children, the California Association of Private Special Education Schools, Education 1st!, and the Inside Edge Educational Foundation.
Nick began his IRL career as a Teacher Associate at the Almansor Academy, and has held several positions throughout the years. He rapidly progressed into the role of Educational Support Services Manager at Almansor until being promoted to Westmoreland Academy Assistant Director. Nick was also part of the IRL Autism planning committee in the years leading to the opening of Westmoreland Academy. Prior to his time at IRL, Nick was a long-time educator at Rolling Hills Country Day School where he taught middle school students a self-constructed Ethics/Self-Awareness course, which foreshadowed Nick’s current involvement with the philosophical underpinnings of the wholistic Taking Charge® approach and the overarching IRL philosophy, which drive our programs. Nick is also an adjunct instructor and linguistic coach for Taking Charge®, which is offered through UCLA Extension.