Webster’s dictionary defines a teacher as one whose occupation is to instruct. While this may be true for hearing public school systems, our family views these instrumental individuals at the Deaf school as much more than just instructors. Teachers of the Deaf at Deaf schools are extensions of their family and for us they have turned into aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters and friends for Heath. Many Deaf children with hearing parents and hearing family members do not have people who can directly relate to them and their experiences as a Deaf person. Whether a child is implanted, uses a hearing aid or is an ASL user, the fact is they are still a Deaf person and that fact will never change. There is a tremendous opportunity for a Deaf child with hearing parents to be around people just like them despite their modality of communication when they attend a Deaf school.
Deaf people need to be around Deaf people! That is my opinion and I will stand behind it not only from a research perspective but also from a social and emotional perspective.
Imagine going through your entire life as a Deaf person without knowing or being exposed to someone like you, or being able to have someone who understands what it is like to be Deaf in a hearing world. Teachers who are Deaf themselves give a Deaf child an opportunity to know someone like them and Deaf schools give these children an entire community at their fingertips.
Teachers are often overlooked, taken for granted or even criticized for their approaches to educating children. The teachers at California School for the Deaf in Fremont are an amazing group of people who truly care about the children and provide them with the best education. These teachers have molded Heath into the person he is and for this, we will be forever grateful. However, one teacher has been consistent in Heath’s life for close to three years and she is an amazing person inside and out. She is a person that I would consider a friend but more importantly Heath’s guide into the Deaf community and Deaf world. She put together this video of their journey with the following comments.
“I would describe Heath as a happy child. I have known him since infancy and the first time I saw him I noticed his eyes. He arrived by means of a playgroup in our Early Childhood Education program at California School for the Deaf in Fremont. His eyes were big, bright and wide absorbing everything around him. His family kept bringing him to us and they asked many questions. When he was 18 months old they worked with the school district and was able to enroll him into my class and he has been with me ever since. First in the toddler class and now in preschool.
He started as an observant toddler, watching everything in his environment. He began by sign babbling but as I worked with him, it was not too long after that he started to sign clearly and fingerspell. He is now four years old and can now have a deep conversation in ASL. He expresses his opinion, asks questions, compares, is analytical, a leader in school activities, reads, writes and much more! He is thriving just as we would expect any child to who has full language access both at home and at school.
I have been in the field of Deaf Education for many years now and it does not matter if the child comes from Deaf families or hearing families. What matters most is that they come from a signing family with love and advocacy. Heath has been blessed with all of this and more. It has been my absolute honor to be a part of Heath’s life as his teacher.” Maureen Yates, California School for the Deaf, Fremont, CA
Deaf Teachers they are instrumental in a child’s life, development and growth. Do not deprive your Deaf child of these individuals.
And that is my perspective.