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Our Founder

Sally L. Smith (1929-2007) designed and founded The Lab School of Washington in 1967 and Baltimore Lab School in 2000 for children with learning disabilities. Traditional schools were not successfully educating her youngest son Gary. Believing that “everyone can learn,” Ms. Smith was a pioneer in designing teaching approaches that used art in all its forms as a gateway for teaching academic skills. 

She developed the Academic Club Method, an experiential classroom model that teaches academic subjects through full immersion in rigorous academic material. Academic Clubs create storehouses of knowledge, vocabulary, language fluency, and critical thinking to facilitate classroom proficiency in multiple disciplines. The success of this model has been repeatedly documented and is replicated worldwide.

Sally Smith oversaw the Master’s Degree Program in Special Education: Learning Disabilities at American University and was a national leader in the field of learning disabilities. Author of ten books and numerous professional articles, Sally Smith mastered the art of translating difficult clinical issues into popular language. Her best-known books are No Easy Answers: The Learning Disabled Child at Home and at School (Bantam, 1979; Revised, 1995), and Succeeding Against the Odds: How the Learning Disabled Can Realize Their Promise. (Tarcher/Putnam, 1993) She was also a member of the Professional Advisory Boards of both the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) and the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).