Readers' Pick

The Ivymount School

Cathy Dirksen of Silver Spring has seen positive changes in her autistic son, Eric, since he started attending Ivymount six years ago. At the 2010 holiday concert, Eric played the keyboard in front of an audience—something he wouldn’t have done before coming to the school.

“Everything changed for him,” she says of the 17-year-old. “He was respected for his brightness, for his abilities in the performing arts.”

The Rockville private school prides itself on updating programs to better serve students ages 4 to 21 with special needs, including offering innovative programs for autistic students.

“Ivymount is constantly on the move,” school spokeswoman Molly Whalen says.

Most of its students are referred from public schools, which pay their tuition.

11614 Seven Locks Road, Rockville, 301-469-0223,

Other Top Vote Getters: The Diener School, The Lab School of Washington, The Siena School, McLean School of Maryland, The Katherine Thomas School