History of Berry Elementary

Janet Berry Elementary School was named after Janet Berry, daughter of Andrew and Hope Berry. She was born on April 3, 1935 and died in 1985 (age 50) from complications related to the disease dermatomyositis. Dermatomyositis (DM) is a connective-tissue disease related to polymyositis that is characterized by inflammation of the muscles and the skin. While DM most frequently affects the skin and muscles, it is a systemic disorder that may also affect the joints, the esophagus, the lungs, and the heart.

In the United States, the incidence of DM is estimated at 5.5 cases per million people. If there are approximately 316 million people in the United States, then about 1,749 people have this disease, making it extremely rare.

Janet Berry was well known for her dramatic struggle with this rare disease. She was 11 years old when this disease was identified. There was no cure for the disease. She would have just finished 6th grade at that time. Despite significant physical challenges related to battling this disease for 39 years, Janet went on to graduate from Appleton West High School in 1958 and then also graduated from Lawrence University in 1972. She attended classes through the use of telephones.

Through all of this, Janet was wheel chair bound and dependent on others for her care. She became a strong advocate for acknowledging the needs and feelings of those who were handicapped. She worked as a telephone receptionist and also participated in many community service activities within Appleton. This school was named after Janet to honor her courage and to celebrate the gifts that she shared with the Appleton community. 

When the school was being built, school districts throughout the state began moving those students who were previously taught in separate facilities due to severe handicaps into public schools. Plamann School closed and all of the students and staff who attended or worked there were dispersed within the Appleton School District.  

The school was built out in the middle of a corn field surrounded by nature. Quickly, the south side of Appleton began to develop and the empty classrooms filled up. It was only fitting that Janet Berry opened its doors with a strong philosophy of including special education students into the school culture. Our school culture is built around the profound benefits that an inclusive school environment provides for all students. 


Dave Hash - 1991 - 2002
Rick Waters - 2002 - 2021
Emily Behnke - 2021 - 2022
Jeanne Wall - 2022 - Present