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A History of Student Health Services Provided for the Milton Hershey School Community

Featuring Chris Rich, MHS Senior Manager of Student Health Services

Shortly after marrying Milton S. Hershey, Catherine Hershey joined and was an active member of Lancaster Charity Society, an organization that shared a common interest in providing practical self-help and aid to the poor as well as training young people to be self-sufficient. She was a great advocate for student health services at Hershey Industrial School.

Catherine Hershey and Lancaster Charity Society with student health services

Milton and Catherine Hershey knew the vital importance social services would play in the success of their school for children in need. Catherine’s early work in Lancaster, Pennsylvania foreshadowed the need for social services in their students’ and families’ lives at Hershey Industrial School (now, Milton Hershey School).

Fast forward to over a century later, you can still find a dynamic student health services team at MHS focused on aiding students and their families.

“Social workers work with families in addressing needs as they arise,” said Chris Rich, MHS Senior Manager of Student Health Services. “Social workers help families meet their basic needs such as food, housing, and health services while connecting them to community resources available.”

The well-being of the whole child has been a priority since the school’s founding in 1909. As early as the mid-1920s, every teacher had to be a college graduate who had taken courses in psychology as well as education.

Berta Harm a leader of student health services at Milton Hershey School

In 1930, Berta Harm transitioned from teaching to school psychologist in the admissions department and continued in the role for 20 years. At that time, with consultation from a child’s welfare expert, the MHS Division of Student Welfare and Education was created with the addition of a professionally trained social worker as the head of the department.

The 50th anniversary of the school gave school leaders the opportunity to assemble a committee of nationally recognized experts, the Anniversary Evaluation Committee, to access programs and recommend fundamental changes for improvement.

The school identified specific areas for the committee to evaluate and provide suggestions such as, “The extent of social services needed—with students, with families of students, with staff working with students, number and kind of social service staff, psychiatric service, and records.”

Student Health Services encompasses dental, medical, social work, behavioral services, and psychology. Our goal is to focus on the entirety of the student’s well-being. That is what Milton and Catherine Hershey wanted when they founded the school. We are continuing their legacy of the entire child by making sure each student has all the tools they need to be successful in life. We work in tandem with the students, and it’s definitely something that feels like you’re making a difference.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.