History of Gretchen Everhart School
The first Leon County program for trainable mentally handicapped children were housed in the farmer rankle of Hope building on Roberts Avenue. For years parents through donations, fee payments and support ran this program from local civic clubs. In 1971, the school system had a building under construction to serve these children plus fifteen children in a building at Florida State University and similar children from Jefferson and Wakulla counties. During the 1971-72 school year the program was financed and administered through the school system. In 1971-1972, the building on Mission Road opened for forty-eight students from the counties mentioned above and the Candle of Hope School on Roberts Avenue was closed. The new school was named for Gretchen Everhart who was the county supervisor for exceptional Children.
During the next seven years the program expanded to serve pre-school children and to include an extensive vocations training program. Also, students from Taylor County were added to our school. The facility was enlarged to provide home economics space and pre-school space. In the last two years many new facilities have been asked; a music therapy suite, a physical-therapy pool and a building to serve severely handicapped youngsters. New programs to serve sensory handicapped children and profoundly handicapped children have been added. At the present time the enrollment is two hundred and ten students.
At Everhart, each child is seen as a unique individual who has the ability to learn and grow. A program is written for each child, with the help of the parents, teachers and specific specialists that, with help each student, develop maximum independence and in most cases useful vocational skills.
Our 1981-82 staff consists of sixteen classroom teachers, eight vocational teachers, three speech therapists, one physical therapist, one physical education instructor, one media specialist, one social worker (part-time), one nurse (part-time), one music therapist, a principal, an assistant principal of curriculum and forty-two aides and instructional assistants plus service personnel in business and food services. We also have the volunteer services of twenty foster grandparents.
Our students live at home with the exception of sixteen students who do live in the Tallahassee Sunland. Buses bring the students to school each day and return them at the end of the school day. The Leon County School System receives state funds for the education of the children regardless of the "home" county. Each of the counties in the cooperative agreement must provide the transportation for their own children,
The original name of our school was "Gretchen Everhart Trainable Center." Since its opening in 1972, we have added many new programs and are now working with children with a variety of exceptionalities. During the summer of 1980, the School Board officially changed the name of the school to more adequately reflect its present population. Our name is now Gretchen Everhart School for Exceptional Students.