Past Executive Directors

Robert J. McArdle, Interim Executive Director

Bob brought over 40 years of experience in special education to Gifford. From July 2015 until June 2017, Bob guided Gifford in its transition to a new Executive Director. He was the Executive Director at Greater Lawrence Educational Collaborative, Administrator of Pupil Personnel Services in Stoneham Public Schools, Administrator of Pupil Personnel Services in Greater Lawrence Vocational Technical High School, Special Education Administrator in Woburn Public Schools, and Past President of the Massachusetts Administrators of Special Education (ASE). 

Michael J. Bassichis, Executive Director Emeritus

Mike Bassichis came to Gifford in 1976 as a Licensed Social Worker. Prior to this time he worked at The Judge Baker Child Guidance Center and Camp Wediko and trained at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Roxbury Court Clinic. He was Assistant Director until 1987 when the Board of Directors promoted him as the School's Executive Director. On June 6, 2015 the Board of Directors dedicated the Administrative Building on campus to honor Mike for his 40 years of outstanding service and leadership to the Gifford School.  The Bassichis House is named in gratitude for his unwavering dedication to fulfilling the mission of our school. The Board of Directors named him Executive Director Emeritus in recognition and gratitude for his leadership. Mike retired in June 2015. 

Edward Boyd Ed.D

In 1976, at a time when the School’s Board of Directors was searching for badly needed leadership, Edward Boyd, Ed.D. and a licensed psychologist, was recruited as the School’s Executive Director. Having worked at places like The Dearborn School (a part of Lesley College), The Manville School and Camp Wediko (both part of The Judge Baker Child Guidance Center), Ed had a great deal of experience in the field of special education. In addition, he had been on the faculty of Boston University where he taught in the special education program.

During Ed’s tenure as Director, the effects of the Massachusetts special education law called Chapter 766 (enacted in 1974) were beginning to be felt. Ed brought new ideas and developed new approaches for Gifford in areas such as educational and clinical assessments, reporting, documentation, and accountability. He enhanced the School’s professionalism by bringing in a variety of new training programs. The size of the staff began to increase, the understanding of children’s learning and emotional special needs began to expand, and some needed renovations to the physical plant occurred.

Ed also was able to institute the use of new research and current developments in special education and clinical theory to Gifford. For example, Gifford became sophisticated about the notion of treating a child within the context of his family system, which produced the notion of family therapy. Working collaboratively with regulatory agencies such as the Department of Education and the Rate Setting Commission, Ed’s successful negotiations led to important, positive results for the School’s fiscal well being.  After guiding the School for 11 years, in 1987 Ed stepped down as the School’s Executive Director.

Larry Hardison

Larry Hardison came to The Gifford School in 1971 as its Executive Director. Prior to coming to Gifford, Larry was on the faculty as a teacher and then principal at Manville School, a component of The Judge Baker Children’s Center in Boston. Larry served as Director until 1975 when he became the Director of the Weston Metco Program. However, he soon realized that his real calling was to work more directly with students, which is why he went back to the classroom as a teacher at Boston Latin Academy. He retired in 2003 and moved to his native South Carolina. Larry was a sensitive and sincerely committed educator who was especially tuned in to the needs of inner-city children.

Gus Krantz

Joining the faculty in 1967, Gus Krantz was a major contributor to The Gifford School story and its history. Gus was a professional football player at one time and then became the head of manual arts and athletic programs at Gifford. He was large in size and stature, but those around him found him to be gentle, relaxed, informal, and patient. His warm manner and athletic expertise were comforting to students who were not used to large, gentle men.

Gus developed Gifford’s first “outward bound” camping program, known as The Pathfinders, which featured weekend “adventure challenge” trips during every season.

Gus became Associate Director of the School in 1970 and was of great assistance to the school’s founder. It was his vision about the potential of our magnificent campus in Weston that helped Gifford make the move from Cambridge to its present location. After Margaret passed away, the Board of Directors asked Gus to stay on as Executive Director. He remained at Gifford until he left to begin his own special education program in Danvers called The Wreath School. Gus based that program on the Outward Bound model.

Margaret Gifford

Shortly after her retirement as the Director of the Dearborn School in Cambridge (the “laboratory school” for Lesley College), Margaret Gifford founded The Gifford School in 1964. Margaret used her own funds and was 65 years old when she first opened the doors to Gifford in a nondescript, three-story house on the corner of Hancock and Broadway, outside of Central Square in Cambridge. She spent numerous hours at the State House lobbying to qualify Gifford as a special education program authorized to provide services in the Commonwealth.

The School started with a staff of eight teachers (Margaret included), one social worker, a part time psychologist, two part time consulting psychiatrists, an administrative assistant, and an elderly gentleman in his 80s who was the School’s first janitor.

The School remained in Cambridge until 1971 when it relocated to its present Weston campus. Margaret passed away soon thereafter, but without question, she made an indelible mark as an educator in the field of special education and children’s services with the creation of the School that bears her name.