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Noelle Cruder teaches a middle school social studies class about the branches of government at The Harbour School, which serves children ages 6-21 who are challenged with autism, learning disabilities and emotional difficulties.
Noelle Cruder teaches a middle school social studies class about the branches of government at The Harbour School, which serves children ages 6-21 who are challenged with autism, learning disabilities and emotional difficulties. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

As a middle school teacher at The Harbour School for the past 14 years, Jessica Miskell has taught hundreds of students with multiple learning disabilities.

With each one, she has the freedom to tailor her instruction based on the student’s needs.

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“Prior to here, I worked in public schools where its district mandated what you’re teaching,” she said. Here, "I love the freedom to be able to pick the things that are more relevant for who I’m teaching in particular classes and teaching the way that’s going to work best for each of the kids in that room.”

With campuses in Annapolis and Owings Mills, The Harbour School serves more than 350 students ages 6 to 21 with a range of learning and emotional challenges.

Along with the curriculum flexibility, staff members say, the students themselves are motivation for a job well done. Nearly 95% of Harbour graduates go on to either post-secondary education, jobs or both.

“They’re happy to be here,” said Linda Jacobs, the school’s executive director. “It reminds me of how important our work is.”

While The Harbour School is private, its budget is managed by the state Department of Education, Jacobs said. Harbour teachers’ salaries are lower than public school teachers’ salaries, so the school “takes care of” employees in other ways, she said. That includes paying for employees’ and their families’ health care after an employee serves 10 years with the school and matching 50 percent of employees’ 403(b) retirement plan contributions, up to the maximum amount allowed by the IRS.

Every month, the school also has at least one three-day weekend. And every employee gets birthday and Christmas presents.

“The staff deeply care about the children,” Jacobs said, “and the administration gets that and deeply cares about the staff.”

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1Next Century Corp.2002PrivateSoftware development & consulting2154
2Cummings & Co. Realtors2006PrivateResidential real estate10391
3The Harbour School1982NonprofitPrimary/secondary school2179
4McDonogh School1873PrivatePrimary/secondary school1387
5Loyola Blakefield1852NonprofitPrimary/secondary school1166
6Notre Dame Preparatory School1873NonprofitMiddle and high school1161
7Skyline Technology Solutions LLC2004PrivateInformation technology & devices2223
8Network Building + Consulting LLC1984PrivateWireless communication services2168
9Advance Business Systems1964PrivateBusiness & technology solutions1151
10Beth Tfiloh Congregation & School1921NonprofitSynagogue/Day School2277
11Continental Realty Corp.1960PrivateProperty management40236
12NFM Lending1998PrivateMortgage lending11265
1314 West Administrative Services2001PrivateBusiness services5380
14Corporate Office Properties Trust1998PublicReal estate investment trust7281
15CGI Federal1976PublicBusiness and IT consulting2153
16Wallace Montgomery & Associates LLP1975PartnershipEngineering1215
17Morgan Properties1985PrivateProperty management30282
18The Bryn Mawr School1885NonprofitEducation1203
19Humphrey Management1983PrivateProperty management19194
20Stansberry Research2001PrivatePublishing1154
21Agora Financial2004PrivatePublishing5275
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252nd Family Home Care and Support Services2011PrivateHome health care1253
26Money Map Press2007PrivatePublishing1219
27NewDay USA2002PrivateMortgage Lending1399
28AECOM1970PublicEngineering6240
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