The 1950's

For I know...

God knows special needs children as He knows all of us as His creation. He also knew those children back in the 1950’s. He also knew that there would eventually be a Lutheran Special School in Milwaukee.

1953 A request was made to Rev. Dr. Erich Brauer, South Wisconsin District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Executive Secretary for Parish Education, to explore special education for mentally handicapped children in the District. A request came from the Concordia Pastoral Staff of Milwaukee to investigate curriculum essentials for confirmation of mentally retarded children. In December, the Board of Bethesda in Watertown met to assist the Pastoral Conference with the curriculum investigation.

1954 The District Board of Education requested authority from the District to proceed with definite plans toward inaugurating a program of Christian education geared to the needs of educable mentally retarded children in the Milwaukee area. The District Convention authorized the District Board of Education to go ahead with the plans for a program. The District Board of Directors discouraged the starting of a class on this premise: It would show partiality to the Milwaukee area of the District. It would be prohibitive to spend as much as $6,000 on so few, “when there is a crying need for opening more mission stations.” The District Board formed a study committee to explore the program.

1955 The study committee was denied by the District Board when they sought the financial assistance for one classroom for mentally retarded children. A group of parents of mentally retarded children organized under the name “Milwaukee Lutheran Parents Association for the Mentally Handicapped Children.”

1957 The Milwaukee Federation of Lutheran Churches approved an education program for mentally retarded children. During Lent of that year, a dime folder offering called “Hearts for Jesus” produced $12,000. The Milwaukee Federation of Lutheran Churches pledged $500 for a class for the mentally retarded, should one materialize.

1958 The Federation adopted a resolution approving the program of special education for educable children and again sponsored a dime folder Lenten offering among day and Sunday school children in the Milwaukee area. Plans were made to begin the classroom in September, 1958. The first class met at Pilgrim Lutheran School with an enrollment of three. Mrs. Anita Hackbarth was their teacher.

1959 John Melcher became the first Director of the Milwaukee Lutheran Special School in September.