The Harbour School

"It’s Harbour Magic,” explains Dr. Linda Jacobs. As the founder and Executive Director of The Harbour School, this is how she usually explains the extraordinary accomplishments of her students. To an outsider, a precise definition of the near miraculous properties of “Harbour Magic” can be hard to quantify. Yet, students in grades 1 through 12 with learning disabilities, autism, speech language disorders and other disabilities such as ADD/ADHD have experienced the magic at The Harbour School firsthand, everyday for the past 25 years.

From her office at the school’s Annapolis campus, Dr. Jacobs offers, “You have got to see inside our school to understand Harbour Magic. It is in the warm greeting of the cocker spaniel that meets you at the door, in the caring and dedicated work of the faculty, and in the smiles on students’ faces – it permeates everything here.” To those parents who bring their children to The Harbour School, often frustrated with their child’s progress in the public schools, or referred to Harbour by the local school district and desperately searching for a program that will understand and serve their child’s special needs, it is Dr. Jacobs herself who is the conjuror of all things magical at Harbour.

The enchantment began in 1982 when The Harbour School, then called Innovative Learning Center, Inc., first opened its doors to four students, two teachers, and one dog. Word quickly spread of how disabled students, who struggled in public school, were suddenly making wondrous academic strides. More and more parents sought to nourish their special children at The Harbour School. Steadily the student body grew and the school expanded to new facilities. Now, as Harbour celebrates its 25th anniversary, the school serves more than 260 students at campuses in Annapolis and Owings Mills.

In reality, Harbour Magic is more common sense and passionate devotion than supernatural intervention. Dr. Jacobs’ guiding philosophy is very simple; all children can learn, and learn the most when they are taught the way they learn the best. As a result, every student is seen as unique – one of a kind. At The Harbour School, students are not required to “fit” into the program. Rather, the program is custom-tailored to suit each student’s exclusive and individual needs.

The Harbour School curriculum is a pioneering competency-based model that emphasizes student achievement at an individualized pace. An integral part of the program is the Village, an in-school model economy where each classroom is transformed into a working business. This enables students to apply their academic knowledge to real-world job tasks. The Village is a preparatory tool for adult life, further developing the students’ ability to communicate and collaborate with others. This distinctive curriculum is copyrighted and registered at the National Library of Congress.

Classes at Harbour are small, with six to eight students and two teachers facilitating instruction, creating a more intimate setting for one-on-one instruction and attention. Technology is also an integral part of the curriculum, with one computer in the classroom for every two students. As needed, schooling is complimented with a full array of related services by specialists, including psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists. Harbour’s Transition Services and the Career Center prepare students for the world that awaits them, whether it is college or work in a chosen vocation.

Graduates of The Harbour School are the living testament of Harbour Magic. Graduate studies consistently show more than 90% of Harbour alumni go on to college or employment after graduation, a figure that exceeds national norms. So, even while there may not be a supernatural explanation for their success, Harbour students and their parents will swear Dr. Jacobs and The Harbour School faculty weave one darn good spell.

Learn more about The Harbour School by calling 410-974-4248, or visit the website:


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