Almost Yesterday: Malden School System Expands Service
It seems like Almost Yesterday that the Malden, Missouri School System introduced a new era in southeast Missouri education. With the beginning of the 1957-1958 school year, the Malden schools, for the very first time, provided special education classes for handicapped children.
Approved by the state Department of Education, Malden was the first district in the Missouri Bootheel to incorporate special education into the daily schedule. A dedicated classroom and a dedicated program replaced the home bound system initiated in 1950 by Ms. Della Zimmerman, a teacher in the Malden system.
For several years, Ms. Zimmerman, a full-time instructor during the day, took lessons to handicapped students in their homes – after school and in the evenings.
In the early 1950s the Missouri Department of Education recognized the growing need and national trend, but, it took three years before there were sufficient funds to support this new area of instruction.
In addition, like other districts, the Malden schools had limited space and an absence of qualified instructors to meet the needs of special students. But, when a new junior high was constructed, a room was set aside for what was then called, “Special Education,” and the first class of five students was formed. Mrs. Elva Eiceman, a local elementary teacher, acquired specialized training, and became the assigned instructor.
By the fall of 1957 state support for special education was provided for  students who were able to attend classes,  students who were home bound and unable to attend classes, and  those who were in the system with measured progress.
In Malden, Missouri, a closed door was opened for special children.