Since 1978 Chatham Academy has educated students with Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and similar learning differences. Our goal is to help each student reach their potential academically and socially in turn becoming productive members of society. To accomplish this, we offer specialized classes that strengthen reading, math, writing, and study skills. We also teach self-advocacy skills which empower our students to accept who they are, recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and gain the ability to plan a path for success.

We have a unique environment offering every student the opportunity to learn successfully, to find acceptance, and to engage with empathetic educators. When students enter Chatham Academy, they are immediately met with a feeling of warmth and caring. Through the small classes, extra- curricular activities, and close relationships with the staff, our students overcome past learning difficulties, learn from their mistakes, and find the strength to take risks again. As they experience success both academically and socially, they take on new challenges and imagine more possibilities for their future.

In my 38 years at Chatham Academy, I have learned more than I have taught. I was 26 years old when I started and I tell my students I have grown up at Chatham Academy. My idealism remains but it is tempered from experience. I still firmly believe that every student deserves a chance and my job is to help them take advantage of that chance. Our staff is always problem solving and trying to make sure the students understand that they decide what happens to them. It is by their actions not their words that the decisions are made. Learning this is as difficult for them as learning reading, math, or written expression. I tell them that we are there to support them both educationally and emotionally and that we are as stubborn as they are. I think the strong sense of caring and commitment that emanates from every staff member is quickly felt and allows them to trust us enough to change. In addition to this, our ability to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes sets an example for the students.

Chatham Academy offers every student a chance at success and welcomes students without bias towards sex, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.



Chatham Academy is dedicated to meeting the educational needs of children with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and similar learning differences.

Chatham Academy offers:

  • College preparatory or practical studies curriculum
  • Low student/teacher ratio with individualized instruction
  • Caring and supportive professionals who foster self-confident, independent, and responsible individuals
  • Extra-curricular activities


In the mid 1970’s, a group of parents of children with learning disabilities and business professionals in the community met to discuss the educational challenges their children encountered each day. They recognized that area schools were limited in their ability to address the needs of children who learn differently. They wanted a school to enhance the strengths of children who were bright but who struggled in traditional learning environments. This discussion led to a decision to start a new school.  After much planning, they asked Carolyn Hannaford, a young and dedicated teacher who studied at Stetson University and The University of Virginia, to interview for the position of principal. They were impressed with her ability to connect with students by immediately earning their respect and focus. She was hired on the spot. There was one big problem; they had no money to hire her and no place for her to teach. The parents turned to the community for support and asked Carolyn to have faith in the vision. Through major donations from The Women of Christ Church and Candler Hospital, Chatham Academy became a reality in 1978. Soon word spread about the phenomenal school and its amazing students; their dream became a reality.

Carolyn developed a proven method for assisting students and their families to become their absolute best. Over the last thirty years, she has built a team of highly skilled, motivated, and driven teachers who love their job in spite of its tremendous demand.

“Every day I wake up and know that I don’t know what I’m going to have to face, and every day I know I’m going to love it.” Carolyn Hannaford


  • Students with LD, ADHD, and literacy needs are our first priority. Our focus is on strengthening the total person while building academic, social, and emotional skills.
  • We have a focused yet flexible academic intervention which remediates weaknesses, teaches through strengths and considers the student’s current and future life circumstances.
  • We place a strong emphasis on self-advocacy, working towards developing students to become independent, productive members of the community.
  • We provide emotional, educational, and social support to family members and others affected by the student’s handicapping conditions.


Chatham Academy believes that a student’s self-concept, attitude and past experiences affect the daily learning process of the child.  Teaching academic skills, appropriate daily behavior and social skills are an important part of the curriculum.  In order to teach these skills, daily instruction is on-going and constant.  Built into the curriculum, sequence of skills and teaching style is the constant review of key ideas and skills so that the information is transferred from short to long-term memory at each student’s individual level.

Chatham Academy has designed the classrooms, teaching techniques and curriculum to allow each child to experience academic and social success.  Students are grouped in classes by age and skill level, which allows the teacher to provide for academic success.  Each class is structured so that students have clear expectations and are aware of consequences for inappropriate actions.  Basic class rules are the same throughout the school to provide consistency.  There are slight variations in consequences based on student age and individual needs.