Our mission is to aid and encourage intellectually gifted, at-risk middle school through high school students to reach their full potential and become leaders equipped to help others in similar economic and social situations.
I have so much to thank you for I can’t possibly write it all down here. You have done so much to help me realize my potential. I believe you have given me one of the best gifts anyone is able to give. I hope that the success I continue to achieve in my life will show you how much I love you and thank you.
– Jenny (former Jacob’s Ladder Climber)
Created in 1991, Jacob’s Ladder is a proactive enrichment program for intellectually gifted children who face obstacles to success. These young people – Climbers – have an extraordinary ability to excel academically. But unless someone steps in, they will most likely fail to realize their potential. The program is the product of the vision of one man: Aubrey Hall. Aubrey Hall was a corporate executive when he was first moved to help reach smart kids whose needs were going unmet. As a volunteer working on a summer mission trip with the children of migrant workers on the Eastern Shore, Mr. Hall was frustrated by the gap between the children’s abilities – and the opportunities available to them.
The problem preyed on his mind. Eventually, the solution revealed itself. Academic enrichment programs would certainly help bright, underachieving kids reach their full potential. But the youngsters would need more. They would need to develop the social skills, emotional discipline and spiritual depth that are the hallmarks of a successful adult.
With his wife, Margie, and with support from the Reverend Robert Phipps, then Headmaster at Christchurch School, Mr. Hall launched the first Climber class in 1992. Today, Aubrey and Margie are the proud “parents” of more than 250 young people – current and former Climbers, as well as Climber “graduates” — who have benefited from the Jacob’s Ladder approach.
How does it all work?
Jacob’s Ladder relies on teachers, guidance counselors, coordinators of gifted and talented education programs and other community leaders to recruit program candidates – children in grades four and five who have been identified as intellectually gifted. Candidates undergo a thorough round of interviews and assessments while their parents learn more about the program and what it entails. Successful applicants become Climbers and become eligible to participate in these opportunities.
- Summer enrichment camps
- Year-round contact with Jacob’s Ladder staff members, who monitor the children’s academic program
- Out-of-school opportunities – concerts, museums, sporting events, retreats
- At the end of the Climber experience, assistance in exploring educational options
The Summer Enrichment Program
The first rung of the Ladder begins with a residential program in the summer. For four to five weeks each summer, until they begin the 9th grade, the children of Jacob’s Ladder live on campus at an independent boarding school. Climbers participate in a diverse offering of academic programs and cultural and recreational activities. An academic staff of 8 – 10 teaching professionals offer each Climber 18 hours of academic instruction each week. A dozen or so Resident Assistants, many of whom are themselves graduates of Jacob’s Ladder, organize a wide array of recreational, athletic and religious activities; they also supervise dorm life and help the Climbers develop life skills such as punctuality and the meaning of personal responsibility.