Richard L. Shorkey Center began as a private school in April 1944 by Emilia Lockhart and James K. Lightner. The mission was to provide “hand and arm work and locomotion for crippled and spastic children.”
In September 1944, Lockhart and Lightner purchased a house on Broadway to include residential placement and an academic program. The agency was renamed The James K. Lightner School.
In September 1946, the agency was incorporated under the name Beaumont Crippled and Spastic Children’s Foundation and in 1949, became a Community Chest recipient. Margaret Snyder, a physical therapist and registered nurse, became Executive Director in 1951 and remained director for thirty-four years. The occupational therapy and physical therapy departments were added at this time. In 1954 another name change occurred and the agency became The Cerebral Palsy Foundation. The speech therapy department was added at this time as well. Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s the agency served approximately ten residents and provided therapy for an average of forty to fifty outpatients annually.
In 1964, the City of Beaumont gave the property known as Central Park to the foundation. The gift was restricted in that the property could never be used for “private or commercial purposes,” and all future use must be “for charitable purposes in the medical field.” A major fundraising campaign raised over $300,000 to build the present structure at 855 South Eighth Street. In 1991, the agency’s name was changed to the CP Rehabilitation Center.
In the summer of 2001, another name change occurred to rename the agency after retired medical director, Dr. R. L. Shorkey. This resulted in Richard L. Shorkey Education and Rehabilitation Center of Southeast Texas. The center’s name was shortened to the “Shorkey Center” in 2003.
The K.I.D.S (Kids in Day School) program, a school for children with autism and other related disorders began in 2005. K.I.D.S. is a TEA Non-Public School.
In 2009, the Center expanded summer programs to offer daycare, ABA Outreach and Art Camp. Since 2010 the Center has continued its summer programming and has added swimming lessons, Kids in the Kitchen, Teen Social Skills, and many other programs to their summer schedule.
In December 2011, the Shorkey Board Members voted that the Center would be changing its Mission to focus on all children while continuing to focus on the specialized education and rehabilitation of children with special needs.
In March of 2012 the Center opened the Instruction Junction Preschool/Daycare Program. Serving ages 12 months through kindergarten, the program offers a comprehensive curriculum focused on the TEKS, and uses the Texas State approved Frog Street Press curriculum. Instruction Junction is also an active participant in the Texas School Ready Program. Instruction Junction Preschool/Daycare Program is also an inclusion program for students with disabilities.