Our Mission

We get students excited about coming to school and learning — every day. By weaving compassion and creativity into research-based lesson programs and personalized instruction, our educators strive to unlock the exceptional potential in kids who have diverse learning abilities.

A Little Laurel School History

Planting its roots in 1964, The Laurel School has had student diversity at its forefront. Originally started at the direction of Dr. Morrison Gardner as a tutorial service for students at the Child Development Center at Children’s Hospital, Marcia Spitz’s services grew to become The Laurel Learning Center.

In 1968, The Laurel Learning Center grew to a half-day school. Students with learning challenges traveled to Laurel Learning Center from independent schools such as Town, Hamlin, Convent of the Sacred Heart, and Stuart Hall. After morning academic classes, these students returned to their home schools for afternoon programs and non-academic classes.

In 1969, the school expanded to a full-day program and moved to a larger facility shortly thereafter.

In 1981, the school became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and was renamed The Laurel School. The mission of the school was to provide a safe, respectful, inclusive learning environment that would build self-esteem and teach social skills while offering the full curriculum of an elementary school. The school often served as a transition for students between a therapeutic environment and a mainstream school.

The Laurel School was established at its present address in 1985.

In 2003, Andrea Montes became head of school and the school organized an active board of trustees.

In 2011, Hal Hensler took the reins as head of school with more than 30 years of teaching and administrative experience. Over the last few years, our dedicated board has overseen an update in infrastructure, curriculum, and building renovations to help create a cutting-edge academic institution for students with learning differences.

In 2018, after an extensive two year self study and school improvement process,  The Laurel School received their first accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges for a term of six years. 

“The Visiting Committee observed that the School demonstrated caring, concern, and high expectations for students in an environment that fosters self-esteem. Diversity, individual differences, and student success are celebrated and as a result, students feel safe and accepted.” WASC Visiting Committee 2018

“The School understands the need for all students, regardless of academic ability, to engage in the curriculum in meaningful ways.” WASC Visiting Committee 2018

Today, Laurel serves between 65 and 70 students in first through 8th grade. About 90 percent of these students have a diagnosed or suspected mild to moderate learning difference, and other students benefit from the small class sizes and specialized instruction.