Kradwell School: celebrating 50 years of shaping healthy lives

Kradwell School’s beginning dates to 1963, the year that Milwaukee Psychiatric Hospital inaugurated psychiatric inpatient treatment for adolescents.  The freestanding school program, known as The High School, was designed to serve the educational needs of the adolescent patients.

KradwellAnniversaryLogo_CMYK_FinalIn 1968 the name of the school was changed to Kradwell High School in honor of Dr. William Kradwell.  Dr. Kradwell joined the then Milwaukee Sanitarium as staff psychiatrist in 1905, when psychiatry was virtually unknown in the state.  In 1946, he set up a $100,000 fund for promotion of public health in the fields of psychiatry and neurology in memory of his wife, who had died in 1939.  In 1957, he received a Pere Marquette award from Marquette University for his work in mental health.  Dr. Kradwell lived in a house on the campus of Milwaukee Psychiatric Hospital from 1905 till his death at 85 years of age.  His portrait and high school diploma are on display in the entryway of Kradwell School.

The current school program dates to 1978, when the school faculty of four, in cooperation with the medical staff of Milwaukee Psychiatric Hospital, launched the Kradwell Day School program.  This program, which grew into Kradwell School, was established in response to the continuing educational needs of an adolescent inpatient approaching hospital discharge.


From the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital Archives

Shortly after the launch of the Day School Program, Kradwell School was approached by the Waukesha Public School District who placed their first student in Kradwell.  The Elmbrook School System placed their first student in 1979.  Additional referrals came from therapists, Kradwell students and their parents.

During the fall of 1986, an elementary teacher was added to the Kradwell faculty to teach the new Schroeder Children’s Center inpatient population.  In light of the fact Kradwell now served Kindergarten through twelfth graders, the school name was changed to Kradwell School.

Kradwell School inpatient services ended in June of 1995 as a result of a growing Day School population and inpatient services restructuring.   At the same time, Kradwell School added a summer school program that offers a full range of academic classes.

Also, in 1995, again in response to the continuing needs of an adolescent inpatient, the Board of Directors of Milwaukee Psychiatric Hospital established a renewable full tuition scholarship subsequently funded directly by Kradwell School.  In 1998, the Medical Staff of Milwaukee Psychiatric Hospital established an annual  $1,000 scholarship that was raised to $1,500 in 2002.  During the summer of 2005 the Elizabeth Brinn Foundation provided scholarships for five City of Milwaukee students.  This scholarship was expanded to include van service at the start of the 2006-07 school year.


From the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital Archives

During the 2002-03 school year a “Student Practicum” was designed in response to the growing need for additional transitions services.  It is a cooperative effort between Kradwell School and Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.  The program provides a supportive vocational learning experience for Kradwell School seniors with the opportunity to explore clinical and non-clinical health care career options. Students earn high school credit for participation.

Approximately half of our middle and high school student population are referred by twenty-seven school districts ranging from Oak Creek to the south, Whitewater to the west and West Bend and Port Washington to the north.  The remainder of the student population are private tuition students.  Kradwell School presents both eighth grade and high school diplomas at formal graduation ceremonies in June at Mt. Mary College.

In the fall of 2004 a Capital Campaign was launched to fund remodeling and expansion of the school building.  Construction began in November of 2005 and was completed in June of 2006.  A separate elementary/middle school program opened with the start of the 2006-2007 school year.

Today, Kradwell School’s faculty and staff of 21 provide educational services to a total enrollment of 135 students.

To purchase tickets to our 50th Anniversary Celebration on May 21, or make a gift in support of the Kradwell School scholarship fund, please call 1-414-615-5935 or visit our website.

Every gift can change a life. Please consider a gift supporting Kradwell School, where students live well with care customized to their academic, emotional and behavioral needs.  Your gift, through the Aurora Health Care Foundation, helps students become all that they can be.

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2 Responses to Kradwell School: celebrating 50 years of shaping healthy lives

  1. Cynthia Erickson says:

    This school sounds like a dream come true for my 16year old daughter… She is the perfect candidate for this program; Ashley has Dyslexia, has always struggled to fit in a regular school setting, has now become very angry & depressed and I am seeking help for the reasoning behind why she has started to cut herself…. My Ashley has Always loved learning, her teachers, & school but Dyslexia & adolescents has worn away at her beautiful soul & now she is wounding herself too…? I am a single Mom with two children and I work two jobs to make ends meet, there is No Way I could afford $15,000 a year for my daughter to attend Kradwell – Is there any way that we could apply for a referral or some sort of grant that helps troubled teens… Kradwell would be an answer to our prayers…. Especially right at this very moment, because as I am writing this it should be DAY ONE to Ashley’s 2016/17 school year and she is lying in her room depressed about not having “that first day of school” experience…. We have heard nothing but Positive words about Kradwell School and it seems at this point in my daughters life Kradwell would be her savior…
    If there is any way you could Help us get a seat for my daughter in the Kradwell classroom and Help for her to have the Successful Life she Longs for please contact me at #414-722-7847
    Thank you for your time and posting such a Great Story about this wonderful school that we Hope to be a part of.
    Sincerely, Cynthia Erickson

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