When Catherine Hare and her husband, Frank, moved to Athens County for his job as a Presbyterian minister in 1967, they never could have imagined the impact they would have on the area’s developmental disabilities community.
In 1970, Catherine enrolled in Ohio University to earn a master’s degree in special education – a new program at the time. While working on her degree, Catherine was offered a fellowship to help bring special education teachers into the Athens community. During this time she also became friends with a preschool teacher at Beacon School, which served children with developmental disabilities and was operated by the Athens County Board
On occasion, when Catherine needed someone to watch her son, Mark, who did not have a developmental disability, she would drop him off at the Beacon School preschool, which he loved.
“We had an integrated preschool before integration was even a word,” says Catherine. She believes joining an integrated preschool was one of the factors that contributed toward her son’s giving spirit and missionary work.
To further support the county board, Catherine accepted a position at Beacon, first teaching physical education and then teaching in a classroom. She stayed at the school for 24 years.
Catherine’s proudest moment at the Beacon School was having a full-size swimming pool added to the facility so the children could learn how to swim. That successful initiative remains part of the school’s programming 27 years later.
During her time as a teacher, Catherine and her husband also started a summer camp program, ARC Camp, for children with developmental disabilities, which is still going strong. Catherine, Frank, and their five children were all involved with the camp and continue to help to this day.
Catherine is proud of the progress the developmental disabilities community has made since she started teaching decades ago.
“I have been fortunate to see the development of this program,” she says. “Everything has changed and it’s all leading to those with disabilities having a voice.”