Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

060_Ruby VanMeter and Wallace Schools


060_Ruby VanMeter and Wallace Schools


This is a page from the collection "Bicentennial Reflections: History of Des Moines Public Schools, 1876-1976" by Dr. Robert R. Denny, published by the Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, Iowa in 1976.

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58 In January of 1971, Studebaker was accepted to participate in the Kettering Foundation's IGE, Individually Guided Education, program. The opening of the new addition enhanced this program by providing flexible space for the multiunit, multi-aged approach to learning. Studebaker was selected in 1973 to participate in the HEW-Berkely Smoking and Health project. This is serving as a model for other Des Moines Schools. They are also involved in a career education program. Mr. Jerry Mills is principal of Studebaker SchooL Ruby Van Meter School 710 28th St. 50312 Constructed—1972 The present program for moderately retarded children is an outgrowth of many years of work on the part of great numbers of parents and school personnel. A pilot class was started in 1956 by the Polk County Association for Retarded Children. In the fall of 1959 the Des Moines Public Schools, under the able leadership of Mrs. Van Meter, assumed the obligation of educating moderately retarded children between the ages of 7 and 14. Miss Mary Fern Crawford conducted two classes, one for younger children in the morning and one for older children in the afternoon. The classes were held at Moulton Cottage, Eighth and College Avenue, Des Moines. The curriculum consisted of self-care, social adjustment, language development, and economic usefulness. Class enrollment outgrew the Moulton Cottage and in the fall of 1961 the program was moved to Slinker School, located at Fifteenth and Center Streets, Des Moines. Principals at Slinker included Violet Coldren and Robert Langben. Since that time the program has continued to grow. During these years the age limits have been expanded to 5 to 21, the length of the school day has been increased to a five-hour day, transportation has been furnished for each pupil, and a hot lunch program has been introduced. Bids for $1,250,000.00 were let for the present building November 30, 1971, and construction started in April, 1972. On June 5, 1973, the Board of Education approved the naming of the new facility for Mrs. Ruby F. Van Meter who was Director of Special Education at the time of the inception of this program. The first classes in the new building were held in September, 1973. Mrs. Ruby F. Van Meter started her career in the field of education teaching primary grades. After teaching in Texas and Iowa she came to Des Moines to teach retarded children at Crocker school. She soon became well known both locally and throughout the nation for her success in working with retarded children. She later became the Director of Special Education for the Des Moines Public Schools, a post she successfully held until her retirement. Many accomplishments were noted while she served at the Director of Special Education but none more important than the beginning of a special program for the trainable mentally retarded. Mrs. Van Meter now lives at Wesley Acres, 3520 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa. 1971 - Morris Spence, Principal. WALLACE SCHOOL 1404 East 13th St. Grades K-6 Dates of construction—1890i Two-ninths 1910 One-ninth 1923 Five-ninths .1954 One-ninth Site—2.4 acres Originally this building was Capitol Park High School. It was part of a separate school district which included the areas served by Whittier and Logan Schools. In the 1907 merger it became a part of the Des Moines Public Schools. The high school unit continued until Christmas when the principal resigned. Then the high school closed and students went to East, North or West High. Capitol Park School with grades kindergarten-8. The Capitol Park Mothers' Circle also' included Whittier School in all of its meetings. In 1912 this organization changed its name to Capitol Park Teachers, Circle. The Penny Provident Plan was introduced into Capitol Park Schools October 10, 1910. This plan was championed by Mrs. Cora Bussey Hillis and in a sense was a forerunner of the Savings Stamps plan of the 1940 V 50's and 60V The records are not clear in regard to the renaming this building Wallace Elementary School in memory of Henry C. Wallace, who served as U. S. Secretary of Agriculture under President Wilson. Wallace school in the mid 1970s is suffering the usual declining enrollments that are common in Des Moines and across the nation. They maintain a six-unit program for grades 5 and 6 with the usual teachers in special subjects. They also maintain a Title III Wisconsin Reading Design