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In the Beginning

Landmark School: The Program, the People, the Place
Charley Harris, Assistant Head of School Emeritus

Before the people was the program, and before the program was the place: all green and blue, a coastal stretch of landscape and seascape that Landmark’s founder, Dr. Charles “Chad” Drake, discovered in 1971 and knew was to be his school.

Chad himself had labored under the label “learning disabled” and had long since learned ways to deal with it at Denmark’s Wordblind Institute while on a Fulbright Scholarship. He returned to America to establish and direct summer programs at Hebron and Cushing, and to direct a Boston-based literacy project that recorded remarkable results with adult non-readers. It was time to install his methods at a permanent location.

Charley Harris
The author, Charley Harris on the "When and If" in the early days.

Chad quickly called a meeting of his board – a collection of colleagues and advisors who shared his drive to found a school. The board made an offer on the place. It was accepted, and many board members, Chad’s mother, and other believers donated funds and signed notes. When Chad signed the purchase and sale agreement, Landmark School owned a place.

It was not difficult to recruit Landmark’s first faculty. Chad knew the type of people he wanted: people of character and intelligence, not necessarily with previous teaching experience for he would train them. He did just that, superbly. The young staff members and their supervisors moved in with energy and commitment, expanding a campus and establishing a workforce, many of whom would stay at Landmark for years to come. Indeed, some will be starting their fifth decade at the school next year, bringing a well-earned prestige to the school and its program

But also in the people category in September of ‘71, were some 35 students and their enthusiastic parents, all of whom had experienced more than their share of educational frustration and disappointment. Landmark has now grown to 445 students on two campuses and has become an internationally recognized and respected school for children and adolescents with language based learning disabilities. In recent years, over 90% of its graduates have gone on to higher education from Landmark’s coastal home, moving on in life with self-confidence and success.