By Bob Broudo, Landmark School headmaster
Dr. Charles (Chad) Drake, Landmark’s Founder, was undeniably brilliant, passionate, charismatic, creative, and severely dyslexic. In the 1960’s, he opened the Reading Research Institute in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where he diagnosed children and adolescents with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities, and soon became frustrated by the lack of appropriate services and programs for these students. Thus, he began operating summer programs in Maine, including in 1969 on the Bates College campus, where I was a rising junior, and met Dr. Drake and learned of his work.
The next summer’s program was held at Hebron Academy in Maine, and I was excited to receive intensive training and to join the teaching and residential faculty. When at home for winter break during my senior year, Chad called me to ask if I would have an interest in becoming a founding faculty member of a new school that he planned to open the following year. I declined, stating I was planning to attend graduate school, but inquired where the school would be located. He responded that they had not yet found a site, and I asked that he let me know if they located one.
Several weeks later, he called again to announce that he had found a site in Beverly, Mass. (my HOME town!), adjacent to Endicott College (where my father directed the art department!). I mentioned these things to Chad to which he replied, “Great, you will be our tour guide!” The rest is history. I was granted deferred matriculation to graduate school and spent the following summer teaching again at Hebron Academy and spending every free moment in Beverly and helping to prepare and convert a summer estate (now the upper High School campus) to receive Landmark School’s first 40 students in September 1971. Such an ambitious, exciting, mission-driven beginning now has a 50+ year history of developing, implementing, and refining Landmark’s diagnostic/prescriptive, individualized, customized program for students with language-based learning disabilities, always informed by experience, best practices, and science. I feel humbled and proud to have had this incredible opportunity to participate in and contribute to Landmark since its inception.
Whether as an entry-level faculty member working in the classrooms and dormitories, creating new programs, or assuming my position as Head of Landmark, it has consistently been exhilarating to witness the investment, professionalism, and commitment of our faculty and staff—and the inspiring and motivating success of our students, when previously this was in question for each of them.
Our history has not been a straight path. While ALWAYS mission-driven with no departure from our student profile, program model, and teaching approach, there have been intermittent threats from economic downturns, an unachievable business model, and other challenges. However, Landmark has always been Landmark, has maintained its mission, core purpose and focus, and has creatively achieved each new level through the coordinated and collaborative work of the faculty, staff, administration, trustees, and families. Landmark is a “calling,” and that so many have answered that call has changed the course of thousands of young lives, for which I am grateful.
During our 20th anniversary, we were experiencing some challenges, and, to inspire our community, I stated that we were “strong and venerable.” Our much-beloved assistant head at the time, Charley Harris, took me aside and said, “Bob, we are not yet venerable. In fact, at present, we are vulnerable.” Charley was correct.
Thirty years later, Landmark IS strong, established, venerable, mission-driven, and constantly evolving, because of the work and passion of so many. The road ahead is filled with opportunities for Landmark and for the field of learning disabilities. I will always feel blessed and grateful to have been able to play a part in both arenas, I have tremendous confidence about Landmark’s next 50 years, and my love for Landmark and commitment to the field will never cease.
This amazing personal and professional journey now leads to my retirement as Head of Landmark at the end of June 2022, with a new Head assuming this position at that time.
Thank you to each and every one of you who has been a part of the Landmark community, contributed to Landmark’s success, and ultimately the success of our students. It is because of you that I have such strong confidence in our future.
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