History of the Home School Communicator Program
The Home School Communicator Program was created in the 1960's following the desegregation of schools to bridge the gap between Home, School and Community. Today Home School Communicators continue to fill a vital role in maintaining positive relationships between students, families, and school.
The years 1967-1970 were the years in which the tensions of the integration process were most openly expressed in Columbia. As the district developed techniques to maintain order in the classrooms, many parents of African-American students complained that those disciplinary steps appeared to be aimed solely at African-American children. A delegation of 25 such parents took their complaints to the October 9, 1968 meeting of the Columbia Board of Education. The Board President at the time brought the discussion to an end, asking the parents to “be reasonable” and promised the group they would hear from him soon.*
The board was called back for a special meeting two weeks later to approve recommendations from the administration in response to the problems raised by the black parents. The board then authorized the hiring of “Home School Visitors” within the schools where principals felt there was a “need for better communication between parents and school staff.” The Home School Visitors were to be selected on their ability to relate to the feelings of parents and students of the local black community.*
Beulah Ralph** was designated as the coordinator of that HSV program and Lee, Grant, and West Boulevard Elementary schools were the first to use the program. The Assistant Superintendent stated that the “primary function would be to help educators understand and work with children who may experience challenges in the current school system.”
The Home School Visitors adopted the following Mission Statement: “OUR MISSION IS TO STAND IN THE GAP ON BEHALF OF THE STUDENT, INSTITUTION, PARENT AND COMMUNITY AS A MEDIATOR STRIVING TO BRING FORTH A COHESIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PARENT, STUDENT, INSTITUTION AND COMMUNITY.”
In 1973 the program was comprised of one coordinator and four staff members. (See 1973 Article on Home School Visitor Program) Eventually, the name was changed to emphasize "communication" between home, school and the community. Today, the Home School Communicator Program is in most of our 34 schools and has spread both within and outside of Missouri.
* A History of Public School Education in Columbia by Roger Gafke
**See also: Who was Beulah Ralph? (Beulah Ralph Elementary School website)