Top Workplaces 2022

Top Workplaces 2022: Linda Jacobs of The Harbour School is the top midsize-business leader

Dr. Linda Jacobs, the founder and executive director of The Harbour School, is one of three people being honored with a Top Workplaces Leadership Award. Jacobs holds her dog, Coco, while Snap, another cocker spaniel, sits at her feet.

Linda Jacobs founded The Harbour School in 1982 as a haven for those needing special education and has led it ever since.

Those decades of leadership experience inspire the staff of the school, which now has two locations, one in Annapolis and the other in Owings Mills, serving students who have autism, learning disabilities and emotional difficulties.


“The executive director is very inspiring because she started this school and built it up to the great school it is today,” one employee said when asked about Jacobs’ leadership. “She always encourages growth and change in order to make the school even better.”

It’s a field Jacobs didn’t even want to go into initially. When studying at the University of Maryland, College Park, Jacobs wanted to be a history teacher, but she minored in the new program of special education, which landed her in her first job.


She never looked back, now having worked in special education for about 60 years and as a pioneering leader in the field for much of that time. She’s now the midsize leader honoree for Baltimore Sun Media’s 2022 Top Workplaces.

“Dr. Jacobs has many years of experience; she shares that experience with staff,” another employee said. “More importantly, Dr. Jacobs shares information about what is going on with the school regularly, including at monthly staff meetings. She is very transparent in the needs of the school.”

Another noted that she consistently sends “the clear message that this is all for the children.”

Jacobs took a few moments from the children to answer questions about leadership and The Harbour School as a workplace.

Darryl Anderson, who graduated from The Harbour School in 2003, talks with Kim Harrison, who was once his science teacher and now serves as curriculum coordinator. Tues., Oct. 18, 2022.

How did the pandemic change The Harbour School as a workplace?

Made us even more aware of our personal responsibility to take care of each other in order to carry out our mission.

What makes The Harbour School a good place to work?

The Harbour School has a strong value system. We attract and keep staff who believe in those values and want to be able to live them in their workplace.


What is a leader’s role in establishing a Top Workplace?

Keep your organization’s mission front and center. Define your values and mentor staff to enable staff to live the mission and the values.

Exterior of The Harbour School's Owings Mills location Oct. 18, 2022.