- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007

Eric Isselhardt makes sure no child gets left behind. In fact, he makes sure they get ahead.

As newly named executive director of Kingsbury, Mr. Isselhardt said, he plans to increase recognition of the D.C. educational center’s services to Washington-area residents with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, autism and attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder. He will assume his duties July 1.

Public school systems sometimes have trouble meeting every child’s needs, particularly those with learning disabilities, Mr. Isselhardt said. At Kingsbury’s facilities on 14th Street Northwest, students receive individual attention to “break the cycle of defeatism.”

“They need a different learning environment to succeed,” he said. “You must completely individualize the program and have attainable goals to match.”

To guarantee that each child receives the attention he needs to learn, Kingsbury keeps a 3-1 student-to-teacher ratio. The center tailors its instructional methods so that students learn to take initiative.

“You can’t gift confidence. They have to earn [it],” Mr. Isselhardt said.

Mr. Isselhardt received a bachelor’s degree from Bennington College in Vermont and holds a master’s and doctorate degrees in educational administration and policy studies from the State University of New York at Albany.

After 25 years of leadership experience in educational settings, Mr. Isselhardt said, he has learned that teamwork is the best way to foster long-term academic success.

“You can’t be successful without families being full partners and working with you,” he said.

Mr. Isselhardt said strong parental involvement and the quality of staff at Kingsbury enable the center to serve nearly 1,000 students.

“They have extraordinary people there,” he said.

Mr. Isselhardt currently serves as head of the Norbel School outside of Baltimore, a job he has held for seven years. He also has held senior educational and administrative positions at Johns Hopkins University in Annapolis, the Scenic Land School in Chattanooga, Tenn., the State University of New York at Albany and Southern Vermont College.

“Dr. Isselhardt is the right leader for Kingsbury as we position ourselves for continuing growth and leadership in the future,” said Ellen Harvey, president of the Kingsbury board of trustees. “He has the perfect mix of skills in the areas of leadership, special education and fundraising.”

Although leading employees requires a high level of energy and endurance, Mr. Isselhardt said, he enjoys the variety his work delivers.

“No day is typical. Everything is different,” he said.

Mr. Isselhardt lives in Eldersburg, Md., with his wife, Andrea, and daughter, Madeline.

— Rachel Buller

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