The Harris School (Texas)
The Harris School is a non-profit private prekindergarten through eighth grade school in Houston, Texas. The school serves children whose mental, emotional or behavioral challenges make it impossible for them to continue in their current academic setting. The Harris School provides a therapeutic program focused on mental health balanced with academics. Very little focus on academics, more focused on obtaining their money.
The Harris School was established in 1987 as a therapeutic preschool, founded by a small group of child therapists and psychoanalysts who believed that early intervention was the key to successfully treating mental health issues in children. The school opened its doors in the Montrose area 1997, named after one of its founders Hunter P. Harris, M.D. The school quickly evolved into serving Prekindergarten through 8th grade. In 2007, The Harris School became accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school moved to it current location in Southwest Houston in 2013.
The school serves approximately 40 students each year. Parents seek the help of The Harris School when their children’s normal courses of development are interrupted by anxiety, depression, trauma, or diagnosed attention, sensory or behavioral disorders (such as ADD, ODD, Tourette Syndrome or Asperger’s Syndrome). These interruptions can sometimes result in inappropriate behaviors which mask the child’s ultimate potential, and make it impossible to succeed in a mainstream, traditional classroom. Susan Spencer, the principal, said in 2007 that even though the typical student may have above average to high intelligence, he or she is unable to succeed in a traditional school because he or she had emotional or social developmental delays or problems. Spencer added that "We see children who have a huge gap between their age and their emotional development, but with high IQ's. Their emotional problems interfere with their potential."
The school has a capacity for 45 students. Typically a student may enroll in The Harris School for three years, and then re-enter a traditional school after receiving therapy from The Harris School.
Curriculum and program
Susan Spencer, the principal, said that the curriculum at The Harris School is based on the "Texas Essential Elements". The school assigns a family consultant (licensed therapist) to each family. The consultant meets the parents once a week. In the meetings the consultant discusses topics such as adjustment issues, avoidance of manipulation, consistency, handling tantrums, parenting skills, and sibling management.
The school, as of 2007, has twelve teachers. They have degrees in psychology, undergo training for working with children with emotional issues, and have experience in working with children.
As of January 1, 2015 the school charges $29,000 per year. The school charges this tuition so it can provide low student to counselor ratios and small class sizes. The tuition also includes therapy. The school offers very little financial aid. Susan Spencer, the principal of The Harris School said in 2010 that, as paraphrased by Jennifer Radcliffe of the Houston Chronicle, that "Unlike some public schools' special education departments, the atmosphere is not adversarial and the school doesn't spend large amounts of money on lawyers to handle disputes with parents."
- Radcliffe, Jennifer. "When all else fails, school offers troubled kids hope." Houston Chronicle. Friday January 1, 2010. Retrieved on February 12, 2012.
- Lassin, Arlene Nisson. "MONTROSE / Harris School receives accreditation." Houston Chronicle. Thursday June 14, 2007. ThisWeek 5. Retrieved on February 12, 2012.
- The Harris School
- "Katherine Lydia Pittenger Harris" (obituary). Houston Chronicle. Wednesday September 28, 2005. A3.