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Oakville woman an early childhood education pioneer



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through third grades. "When I retired, I had to,'' Liner said. "I was exhausted.'' From the beginning of her career in education, Liner saw the need of more parent in-volvement and intervention at an early age. "In the '50s, it was hard for parents, but, oh my goodness, it still is,'' Liner said. "A majority of parents felt it was the school's job to read to their children and the schools did what they could. But if the child comes to school with a curious mind and uses their skills and uses that curiosity, their learning is so much more rapid and broad.'' Add the different environments, social and economic conditions and Liner felt as if teachers constantly were playing catchup with their pupils. At the urging of former Assistant Super-intendent Bob Henley, Mehlville in 1972 was awarded a federal grant to develop a program that would assess new pupils' development and aptitude for kindergarten-level activities. Liner and those working with her sensed that parental involvement would be the key to their success. Learning packets were developed. Parents were invited to workshops. Screenings were done using a variety of methods with the children. Parents took home the packets and worked with their children at home on basic skills that the screening process indicated were below what teachers considered good for entry into school. "It was an educational process for the parent as well,'' Liner said. "If there is intervention — and I mean good intervention — it makes a difference. I traveled to many states giving seminars about the packet program and it became duplicated from that program.'' Her programs and methods were validated both statewide and nationally. In 1985, Missouri provided funding to implement the Parents As Teachers program in all Missouri school districts. Since then, the program has expanded to all 50 states. Since then, many of those Liner hired have continued to work with the program while ad-vancing professionally. "I've got testimonials from some that have gone on,'' Liner said. "They've written letters saying that my influence has helped them become a better teacher. One that I hired has gone on to become an assistant principal at Rock-wood. My influence on other people may have been my major contribution.'' Hard work, more than anything else, may have been responsible for her reputation according to former Mehlville Board of Education President Dan Fowler. "There is no one more responsible for the success of Mehlville's Early Childhood Program than Gladine Liner,'' Fowler told the Mail Call. "Hundreds of children have benefited from Gladine's leadership and our community owes her a debt of gratitude.'' "She influenced everyone around her. Under her direction, parents and staff were always focused on the child,'' wrote former Sen. Anita Yeckel, who volunteered for Liner's program years ago. Yeckel nominated Liner for the honor of having Mehlville's new Early Childhood Center named after her. She was one of four nominees and the Board of Edu-cation voted to name the center after former Superintendent John Cary. Liner has two sons, Ben in Florida and Jim in Oklahoma; four grandchildren, one stepgrandchild, four great-grandchildren and two stepgreat-grandchildren. She continues to practice on her children's children what she preached to parents in the Mehlville School District. "I love them to pieces,'' she said. "I knew I could never change the world, but if I could just brighten the corner where I lived. That much, anyone can do. Just make a difference.''
March 16, 2005 - By BILL MILLIGAN

For the Mail Call

More than 35 years after she launched an effort to underscore a parent's role as a child's first teacher, Gladine Liner is confident that both the federal government and states will find ways to preserve and enhance the work she began in the late 1960s.

With Gov. Matt Blunt's proposed funding cuts and revisions to Missouri's First Steps program a contrast to U.S. Sen. Kit Bond's intention to seek $500 million in federal funding over the next three years to expand the Parents as Teachers program, Liner is unconcerned about the confusion.

"First Steps will not be cut because it is a good program,'' the 82-year-old Liner recently told the Mail Call. "It is an extension of the early childhood programs. I see it expanding and expanding.''

That optimism, according to those who've known her for many years, is one of her strongest personality traits.

"Anything new brings resistance,'' former Mehlville School District Superintendent Bob Rogers told the Call. "She was definitely a pioneer in early childhood education in Mehlville and in Missouri.

"When she started Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten, there were just a few districts around the state doing anything'' for preschool children,'' he added.

Today, a similar program, Parents as Teachers, serves hundreds of thousands of children in Missouri and throughout the nation.

"Children were coming into school without the basic readiness skills,'' Liner said. "I thought that parents wanted to be involved with the educational process of the children. I always saw that as my job.''

In 1951, Liner began working for the old Oakville School District, which a year earlier had consolidated with the Point School District.

The next year, 1952, the Mehlville R-9 School District was formed, creating what is still one of the largest school districts in Missouri.

Liner of Oakville came here when her husband, an Army medic, was transferred from South Carolina to Koch Hospital. She completed her bachelor's degree at Harris Teachers College, now called Harris-Stowe state College.

For the Mehlville School District, she was a classroom teacher for 16 years, elementary counselor five years and early childhood director for nine years. While in the classroom, she taught first through third grades.

"When I retired, I had to,'' Liner said. "I was exhausted.''

From the beginning of her career in education, Liner saw the need of more parent in-volvement and intervention at an early age.

"In the '50s, it was hard for parents, but, oh my goodness, it still is,'' Liner said. "A majority of parents felt it was the school's job to read to their children and the schools did what they could. But if the child comes to school with a curious mind and uses their skills and uses that curiosity, their learning is so much more rapid and broad.''

Add the different environments, social and economic conditions and Liner felt as if teachers constantly were playing catchup with their pupils.

At the urging of former Assistant Super-intendent Bob Henley, Mehlville in 1972 was awarded a federal grant to develop a program that would assess new pupils' development and aptitude for kindergarten-level activities. Liner and those working with her sensed that parental involvement would be the key to their success.

Learning packets were developed. Parents were invited to workshops. Screenings were done using a variety of methods with the children. Parents took home the packets and worked with their children at home on basic skills that the screening process indicated were below what teachers considered good for entry into school.

"It was an educational process for the parent as well,'' Liner said. "If there is intervention — and I mean good intervention — it makes a difference. I traveled to many states giving seminars about the packet program and it became duplicated from that program.''

Her programs and methods were validated both statewide and nationally. In 1985, Missouri provided funding to implement the Parents As Teachers program in all Missouri school districts. Since then, the program has expanded to all 50 states.

Since then, many of those Liner hired have continued to work with the program while advancing professionally.

"I've got testimonials from some that have gone on,'' Liner said. "They've written letters saying that my influence has helped them become a better teacher. One that I hired has gone on to become an assistant principal at Rock-wood. My influence on other people may have been my major contribution.''

Hard work, more than anything else, may have been responsible for her reputation according to former Mehlville Board of Education President Dan Fowler.

"There is no one more responsible for the success of Mehlville's Early Childhood Program than Gladine Liner,'' Fowler told the Mail Call. "Hundreds of children have benefited from Gladine's leadership and our community owes her a debt of gratitude.''

"She influenced everyone around her. Under her direction, parents and staff were always focused on the child,'' wrote former Sen. Anita Yeckel, who volunteered for Liner's program years ago.

Yeckel nominated Liner for the honor of having Mehlville's new Early Childhood Center named after her. She was one of four nominees and the Board of Education voted to name the center after former Superintendent John Cary.

Liner has two sons, Ben in Florida and Jim in Oklahoma; four grandchildren, one stepgrandchild, four great-grandchildren and two stepgreat-grandchildren.

She continues to practice on her children's children what she preached to parents in the Mehlville School District.

"I love them to pieces,'' she said. "I knew I could never change the world, but if I could just brighten the corner where I lived. That much, anyone can do. Just make a difference.''

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