One Giant Leap for Children With Language Disorders
While the United States was reaching milestones in space exploration, Dr. Etoile DuBard was making history of her own. With just three children in a makeshift classroom, Dr. DuBard opened the “School for Preschool Deaf and Aphasic Children” in 1962. The school was renamed in the founder’s honor in 1996 and currently averages 80 full-time and 40 outclient students.
For 60 years, DuBard School for Language Disorders has brought hope to children with communication disorders and their families. Part of the School of Speech and Hearing Sciences in the College Nursing and Health Professions, DuBard School was founded at The University of Southern Mississippi in 1962 when a faculty member’s child needed special services. The University President appointed Etoile DuBard to form and direct the “School for Preschool Deaf and Aphasic Children.” Etoile taught the students using the Association Method - a multisensory, structured approach developed by Mildred McGinnis, who was a teacher at the Central Institute for the Deaf where Etoile studied. Etoile later earned her doctorate and began working with staff to revise and expand the Association Method. Now known as the DuBard Association Method®, this process of teaching language is currently used by professionals around the world. DuBard School houses an accredited professional development program that provides trainings in the DuBard Association Method®. The program trains hundreds of educators, speech-language pathologists, parents and reading specialists from across the country each year. DuBard School professional development also provides education to various undergraduate and graduate degree programs at The University of Southern Mississippi.
In the mid-1970s, the school began to receive partial funding from the Mississippi Department of Education. Today, the DuBard School is a university-based statewide special school providing education to children from across the state. These services are provided at no cost to students and their families. In 2002, the school moved into its state-of-the-art, 17,000 square-foot facility. Eighty percent of the funding for the new facility was provided by private contributions.
In six decades, the school has grown from three students to 80 children in the full-time enrollment program. DuBard School also serves 40 additional children through outclient therapy and other services. The school also serves as a resource for evaluations and referrals to hundreds of children and their families each year.
Many DuBard School students also require sophisticated technology and specific services to learn including hearing aids, cochlear implants, occupational therapy, FM listening systems, specialized computer software, etc. The cost of serving a single, full-time student each year is approximately $22,500. The money received from the Mississippi Department of Education does not cover that cost, so DuBard School relies on contributions through United Way and private donations to ensure the school is fully funded.
In celebration of the 60th anniversary of DuBard School, we pay tribute to the works of Dr. DuBard and those who have given their time and resources to ensure the school has continued to thrive. Countless lives have been changed because of this "one giant leap".