In 1952, a group of Hancock County parents gathered to talk about a dilemma they were facing. They all had children with developmental disabilities who had been denied enrollment in public schools.
The parents knew their children deserved better and could achieve much more in life with an education.
But they had to be given the chance.
That chance occurred when the parent group forged together and created a school on Oct. 28, 1952. Classes began at Howard Methodist Church on Cherry Street in November of that year with eight children and one teacher.
The cost of running the school was covered by the parents and several donors in the community. The group also petitioned the Hancock County Child Welfare Board to receive funds from the state to support classes.
Realizing the school would grow quickly with so many other children in need, the parents continued their plans for further funding and growth. It was about this time that the group received a wonderful gift.
Tell and Opal Thompson had a developmentally disabled son attending the school. Seeing what a positive impact the school had on their family, the Thompsons donated three acres of land so a building could be constructed for the school. Opal later set aside a portion of her estate to be given to the school.
By 1962, the group began construction on an Adult Activity Center; in 1964, pre-school classes were being offered.
It was time to work toward that new building.
Hancock County voters, on board with all the efforts, overwhelmingly passed two levies – one to construct the building that is the current home to the Hancock County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and another to cover operation expenses. The school opened in 1966. Two additional classrooms were added in 1971.
“We provide exemplary service to the people we support – every day, without exception.”
— Kelli Grisham, Hancock DD superintendent