Maureen Martin retires after 41 years at DuBard School
Jul. 15, 2017
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Maureen Martin's job as a speech-language pathology student at the University of Southern Mississippi in the early 1970s was as typist for Etoile DuBard, director of what was then called the School for Preschool Deaf and Aphasic Children. Little did Martin know — on June 30, 2017 — she would herself retire as director of the DuBard School for Language Disorders.
From her humble beginnings as student typist to her first job at the school in 1975 as a speech-language pathologist, through a stint as assistant director and on to director, Martin has never looked back.
"One of the joys about being here, there was then and always has been, something new to grow and develop," she said. "Much teamwork, much camaraderie.
"We had a good program that had so much potential and all of the staff and Dr. (Etoile) DuBard were always looking for ways to reach more children and university students."
Started with the help of the university, United Way and private donors, the DuBard School has been assisting children with severe language and speech disorders, including dyslexia and hearing impairments, since 1962. Martin has been part of the school for 41 years.
Shirley Hammond, business and administration assistant, has worked with Martin for more than seven of those years.
"There's no problem big or small that she doesn't find herself assisting if needed," Hammond said. "I came from a place where we addressed our bosses as Mr. or Mrs., so I called her Dr. Martin and she told me to call her simply Maureen. She doesn't like to be called boss."
When Martin first started, the school served only three students in a small room on the Southern Miss campus. By the time she became assistant director, the school had grown to more than 30 students, but still had only three to four employees.
"We had very little infrastructure (either in) the building or staff," Martin remembered. "It was a huge challenge because we needed to grow the school so its existence did not depend on one person. If you lose one person that's a significant blow to your program.
"I knew we needed to grow to be more stable."
The school now boasts an enrollment of 80 full-time and 25 part-time students with a staff of 35 people. It's also housed in its own $3 million building, still on the Southern Miss campus.
Martin, with the help of the school's advisory board and the USM Foundation, raised 80 percent of the money for that building from funds donated by several foundations, charities and individuals, including the Kelly Gene Cook Foundation. And she's willing to do more in retirement.
"The building was built for a second floor," she said. "We need the space badly for direct services to children and (teacher) professional development.
"I will be available if they need me."
Development coordinator Wes Brooks has no doubt Martin will be only a phone call or email away. Having worked with her for eight years, he finds that a comfort.
"The level of empathy she is able to show is really something else," he said. "She is conscious of everything.
"I mean, before she moves forward with something, whether it be a child's care or advising a parent or grandparent, she considers what's best. And it's also what's best for the people who work here and everybody she deals with personally and professionally."
With Martin's retirement, Michele Schraeder, professional development coordinator, will take over as interim director.
Martin has good memories of her time at DuBard and said she has learned a thing or two during her many years there.
"I hope I've grown in my appreciation for all of the partnerships that have made it possible for the DuBard School to have a vision and I am grateful beyond words to all, especially the university, because they have allowed us to do this wonderful work."
At a glance
City of residence: Hattiesburg
Education: Bachelor's and Master's, speech-language pathology, University of Southern Mississippi; Ph.D., psychology — speech-language pathology research, National University of Ireland
Employment: 41 years at DuBard School as speech language pathologist, 1975-85, assistant director, 1985-89, and director, 1989-2017
Information from: The Hattiesburg American, http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com