Dr. Gertrude Barber was selected by the Erie Times News as Erie’s Woman of the Century this weekend!
I think back to 1952 when children with disabilities were not eligible to attend school. Dr. Barber, as a psychologist for the Erie School District, was the person responsible for telling parents that their child could not enroll in the district. There were two options: institutionalization or stay at home.
I am sure that she did not want to deliver to parents this ominous judgement, but there were no other choices available. So she began her life work, ensuring that all children and adults with disabilities had every opportunity to reach their full potential. The first step was creating a class taught by volunteers in space that was donated to her.
Soon there were programs for adults, group homes so that families had options other than institutional placement, and extensive family support programs. Her reach extended to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Visitors came from around the world to learn about the Barber model. Before she left on her vacation in 2000, she met with me to share some “new” projects she wanted me to work on while she was gone. That was my last conversation with her as she died on her way to Florida.
With the overwhelming support of our staff and community, Dr. Barber’s vision lives on today. We continue to “Make Dreams Come True” for our children and adults. Her mission continues.
You can read the full article, here: