A Rich History
Boston-based lawyer and financier Gardiner Greene Hubbard grew interested in the field of deaf education when his five-year-old daughter, Mabel, became deaf as a result of scarlet fever. Firmly believing his daughter could speak and learn just like other children, Gardiner hired a teacher to work with Mabel on her speech and language. At age 10, Mabel did as well in the classroom as any of her peers with typical hearing.
Watching his daughter learn and grow, Gardiner became a dedicated advocate of education for children who were deaf or hard of hearing. Together with philanthropist John Clarke—who donated $50,000 to open a school for children with hearing loss—Gardiner founded Clarke School for the Deaf in 1867 in Northampton, Massachusetts, offering residential educational services for children who were deaf or hard of hearing.
Since its founding, Clarke has benefited from the support and innovation of numerous public figures, including the inventor Alexander (Alec) Graham Bell. Alec taught at Clarke for the first time in 1871, and would be associated with us for 51 more years—even serving as Clarke’s board president from 1917 to 1922.
And after becoming a student of Alec’s when she was 16, Mabel Hubbard and her teacher eventually married. The two raised four children; and Alec and Mabel’s father went on to start several world-famous organizations together, including the Bell Telephone Company and the National Geographic Society.
Clarke: Then and Now
When Clarke’s residential program was flourishing, students often did not enter the mainstream, learning or working alongside peers with typical hearing, until they were teenagers. Today, with the advent of technology, early intervention and a high-quality Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) education, many students enter the mainstream by preschool.
For this reason, in the 1990s, Clarke transitioned away from running one residential campus in Northampton, to operating five sites along the East Coast.
Today, Clarke brings its listening and spoken language expertise to families across the country and around the world through teleservices.
Clarke serves more than 1,000 children and their families annually.
Recent Clarke News
Judy Sexton, Clarke’s chief program officer, has recently been published in District Administration. She shares best practices for facilitating success for students who are deaf or hard of hearing who use listening and spoken language in mainstream schools.
Read the May-June 2021 issue of Equity and Access PreK-12!
Despite living over 110 miles away, Danny’s family knew that Clarke’s site in Jacksonville was where he needed to be to learn to listen and talk.