Front Page History: Danville Schools launched speech therapy program 62 years ago

Published 1:19 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Danville’s school district announced it would be creating a speech therapy program for students on the front page of The Advocate-Messenger 62 years ago today.

School officials spent “over a year of work and planning” before hiring a speech therapist for the 1957-58 school year, according to the A1 article.

“In the summer of 1956, members of the Parent-Teacher Associations in the Danville city schools contacted the Division of Education of Exceptional Children in the State Department of Education for assistance in meeting the needs of those local children who have speech problems,” the story read.

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School staff and principals, along with Superintendent John E. Robinson then “laid the groundwork for the speech correction program.”

“In Nov. 1956, Miss Doris Perry, supervisor in the Division of Education for Exceptional Children, came to Danville and screened a total of 176 children who were referred to her as having speech problems by the classroom teachers,” according to the story. “A total of 137 of these children were found to have some type or degree of speech problems and approximately 100 required the services of a person trained in the area of speech correction.”

Margaret Farmer of Midway, a 1957 graduate of the University of Kentucky, was hired to be the school district’s first ever speech therapist.

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Also on the front page of The Advocate-Messenger on Sept. 3, 1957:

• School integration at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas had been called off and nine black children did not show up for school, apparently at the request of the Little Rock school board. Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus “told a television audience Monday night that to maintain peace and order the school had to remain unintegrated at least for the time being.”

• In Sturgis, Kentucky, “the first of an integration program for Sturgis schools today was preceded by the hanging of a Negro in effigy in downtown Sturgis and a blast of dynamite set off in a predominantly Negro neighborhood.” According to the report, “The Kentucky National Guard was dispatched to Sturgis and nearby Clay last year to maintain order after crowds prevented Negro students from attending classes.”

• Ephraim McDowell Memorial Hospital had set a record for babies born in a single month: 73 were born at the hospital in August. “The new arrivals were almost evenly divided as by sex, with 35 boys and 38 girls.” The year before, there had been 58 babies born in August.