The Special School (County), 1954-1972

1969 – The Special School

The SPECIAL SCHOOL COUNTY January 18, 1954-1972, first for Multiple Handicapped Children and then for Educable Mentally Retarded children in the county, was located in the old Linebaugh Library on the north side of East Main Street on the east side of CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL.

In 1954, state regulations specified the students to be “children of school age and under twenty-one years, of educable mind, whose bodily functions or members are so impaired that they cannot safely or adequately be educated in the regular classes of the public school.”

The school was an outcome of the consultations of three groups: 1. County personnel: Ira Daniel, superintendent of Rutherford County Schools; Baxter Hobgood, superintendent of City Schools; Sue McKee, county supervisor; and Anne Gannaway, county speech and hearing therapist; 2. state representatives: Mildred Thompson, state consultant; Dr. Henry Dupont and Dr. John Zuidema, state psychologists; and Mr. Hogan from the State
Department of Education; and 3. parents of potential students.

The ungraded class of eleven pupils first met in the Linebaugh Library building with access to the CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL cafeteria and the public playground, “Tiny Tot Town.”

Erected in 1849, the building was originally the home of the Rev. Joseph Heywood Eaton, first president of Union University.

It had been deeded in 1882 to E. L. Jordan for his step daughter Elizabeth Reid Williams Thomas; in 1916, to W. T. Hale, Jr.; in 1922, to TENNESSEE COLLEGE; and in 1946, to Rutherford County. The brick structure contained ten rooms.

When a fire made the Linebaugh building no longer safe, the SPECIAL SCHOOL moved to the old TENNESSEE COLLEGE FOR WOMEN building which at the time was also being used by CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL students. When the TENNESSEE COLLEGE building was condemned, SPECIAL SCHOOL was housed in an old cannery behind McFADDEN SCHOOL where again the pupils had access to a school cafeteria.

On Monday after Thanksgiving in 1961, SPECIAL SCHOOL occupied two self-contained rooms for primary and intermediate children and a third room for secondary age children in the new vocational wing of CENTRAL. Because of increased enrollment at CENTRAL, SPECIAL SCHOOL moved again to the brick building on Halls Hill Pike which had been the SHILOH SCHOOL for black students. Through the efforts of the staff, the building was renamed the DANIEL-McKEE SCHOOL. The school then moved again

Miss Elizabeth Brigham, Special Education teacher for the county, 1954-1969, was assisted in 1955 by Clara Gustafson and a third teacher in 1956, Pauline Reid, who took Miss Brigham’s place upon her retirement. Other teachers for the SPECIAL SCHOOL were: Sue Blair, Elizabeth Mitchell, Larry Reeves, Roy Wright, Danny Hutton, Mr. Looney, Ken Riley, Joan B., Mrs. Patricia Riley, Ruby Sanford, Mattie Wood Dunstan, Mr. and Mrs. Don Newberry, Laurie Knowel, Patricia Kownslar, and Sue Hollingsworth.

Academic work was geared to the individual abilities of the pupils with the idea that the pupils would need under standable material to be used in daily life. A social adjustment was stressed along with improvement of speech and the ability to communicate. One of the strong points in the school program was the recognition and appreciation of efforts made
and work done. A special effort was always made to meet the state requirement of academic units for graduation.

In the early days, parents, individuals, and clubs were generous with their contributions. Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Woodward, whose daughter was one of the first pupils, drove their own school buses for the children. The Newcomer’s Club supplied equipment and gave parties. Mr. Powell Early was long remembered by the pupils for taking all of them to the circus.

SPECIAL SCHOOL, a self-contained unit, moved from DANIEL McKEE SCHOOL to HOLLOWAY because of increased enrollment and especially because of a new state rehabilitation program which required EMR students to be connected with a school. At HOLLOWAY the school expanded to 150 pupils and 12 teachers.

Main-streaming of students began. In 1972 Pauline Reid, still called Principal, retired.

SPECIAL SCHOOL as a separate school ceased to exist when the students moved to a complex of rooms at RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL in the fall of 1972 with Sue Hollingsworth as the Head of the Resource Department.

There mainstreaming increased. In time there were classes for Resource children in other schools throughout the county.

The DANIEL-McKEE SCHOOL became a school for the severely handicapped with Danny Hutton as principal.

SOURCES: Deed Book 4, p. 494; Book 26, P. 421; Book 64, p. 68; Book 98, p. 551. Chancery Court. Minute Book AA, pp. 502-04. “Special School Started in ‘54,” The Daily News Journal, Nov. 13, 1963, p. 5. *Elizabeth Brigham. *Pauline Reid. *Mattie Woods Dunstan.

Comments are closed.