From a Retreat to the Deaf Education ClassroomPosted by Judi Pate on 4/23/2021 9:15:00 AM
My mother told me I was the first deaf person she’d ever met, her own daughter. When my deafness was confirmed at age three, my parents were at a complete loss at what to do. My mother remembers how alone she felt during my early years, also living overseas in a country where she was already isolated due to language barriers.
When I became a deaf education teacher, my mother firmly told me, “Don’t forget...when you teach a deaf child, you are working with the child’s family, too.”
It is the single most important advice that I draw upon. A few years into teaching, I gave birth to a child with hearing loss. I learned to appreciate my mother’s journey through her lens.
Family Weekend Retreat (FWR) is everything that my mother needed when I was a child. It can serve as a resting fork in the road where other paths are adjoined. It is full of opportunities for parents to connect with other parents for support, and for their children to meet other children like them. It also provides connection to professionals and resources. FWR strives to provide research-based, unbiased information through its workshops and training opportunities. Children and their family members can meet deaf adults of different backgrounds. As a deaf adult, I try to be open by sharing my own deaf experiences and perspectives with others. FWR hopes to provide tools for every child and his or her family to be successful as they leave the fork in the road and go on their own paths.
For this year, SOC at TSD is offering Family Week Retreat, a week-long virtual event with in-person Family Fun Days. Professionals and college students can join this year as well. Registration is open until May 31, 2021.
Updating the Deaf Smith ChronologyPosted by Dr. Steve C. Baldwin on 4/13/2021 3:45:00 PM
Much has happened since the first Deaf Smith chronology was published in 2012 in The Deaf Texan - the official newsletter of Texas Association of the Deaf. The work was eventually added to a Deaf Smith study guide in social studies lesson plans. With Deaf Smith’s 234th birthday coming up April 19, it was time to update the Deaf Smith chronology with all that has been learned since.
This updated chronology emphasizes the significant historical role that Deaf Smith played in Texas’ earliest history. There will be more new discoveries, interpretations, and deeper appreciation for Smith’s contributions. Other than the Briscoe Center for American History, the Statewide Outreach Center at TSD has my official Deaf Smith collection that aims to educate and inspire Texas history students.
Look for a surprise entry for 2025, mostly to keep Smith’s legacy an ongoing study with a “tongue-in-cheek”.
Chronology of Erastus “Deaf” Smith
(Updated on April 6, 2021)
1787 - Born in Dutchess County, New York on April 19.
1798 - Family moved to Claiborne County in Mississippi.
1817 - First trip to Texas (hunting, exploring and seeking business ventures).
1821 - Moved to the Bexar area (Old San Antonio).
1822 - Married a widow with three children named Guadalupe Ruiz Duran (1797-1849).
1823 - Daughter Susan Smith was born.
1825 - Daughter Gertrude Smith was born.
1825 - Joined the DeWitt’s colony in Gonzales (Smith assisted with the surveying).
1827 - Son Travis Smith was born.
1829 - Daughter Simona Smith was born. (She provided the vital Smith-Fisk family link that can be traced to the present generation in San Antonio, including the Kilpatrick clan. Her siblings all died of cholera by 1849).
1835 - (fall) to 1836 (spring) - Fought as a soldier then as a private for General Sam Houston’s spy/scout company for the Texian Army in the Texas Revolution against Mexico.
September 30, 1835 –
Climbed a tall live oak tree on the Scull property in La Vernia to view the Mexican movements and report directly to General Houston. (Tree was destroyed by lightning, floods and drought in 2014.)
1837 - Appointed captain of the Texas Rangers, by the Republic of Texas. Engaged in a skirmish against a Mexican cavalry in Laredo. Later, reprimanded by the Republic of Texas President Sam Houston for this unauthorized activity, which caused Smith to resign.
- Died of consumption in Richmond on November 30 in Randal Jones’ house. Later, the Republic of Texas granted a pension of $500 a year to his family.
1840 - The Republic of Texas $5 bill in honor of Deaf Smith was issued.
1849 - Wife Guadalupe died of cholera in San Antonio, along with her son-in-law Hendrick Arnold, a freed Black war hero.
1854 - Legislature gave his family a posthumous land grant. Eventually, the state added a house and more land, which Deaf Smith did not certify to claim, but family later won their cases during the latter part of the 19th century.
1890 - Deaf Smith County in the Texas Panhandle was named in honor of the Texian hero.
1958 – Author Faye Campbell Griffis published her juvenile work “The Nine Lives of Deaf Smith.”
1969 – Deaf New York writer Robert Swaim, Jr., wrote a major article in the Deaf American Magazine entitled “The Hero Who Gave His Name to Texas.”
1973 – Cleburne Huston published his definitive biography, “Deaf Smith: Incredible Texas Spy.”
1983 - Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) renamed the school cafeteria after Deaf Smith. That facility is now a student center.
2009 – David H. Pierce of Davideo Productions remastered and digitalized the video of the 1985 Deaf Smith play.
2010 - Rediscovery of a 1901 painting by Henry Arthur McArdle depicting Deaf Smith in the Battle of San Jacinto was found in an attic. The painting later sold for $334,000!!
2011 – With the assistance of the Texas Forest Service and the permission of the pioneer Scull family in La Vernia, Dr. Baldwin collected 11 salvaged logs from the Deaf Smith Oak Tree.
2012 - Major exhibit at state capitol for Deaf Smith’s 225th birthday, which included a full wax figure of Deaf Smith by Don Bauer of San Francisco. This exhibit won the Barbara Jordan Media Award in the Special Contribution Category.
2013 – The Deaf Smith Collection was developed into a major study guide for teachers and students.
2014 – Deaf sculptor, Don Bauer, passed away. His Deaf Smith wax figure is permanently placed on display in the library of the California School for the Deaf at Fremont.
- Dr. Baldwin donated his entire Deaf Smith collection (1985-2012) to the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. (Note: Baldwin thought he was done forevermore, but read on and laugh.)
2015 – Dr. Baldwin met with the Fort Bend County Museum curator Chris Godbold. Godbold provided information on the latest research for the lost gravesite of Deaf Smith.
2016 – Dr. Baldwin and Dr. Chris Hull, the fourth great-grandson of Deaf Smith, emailed and met each other, and shared the latest research about Ranger Captain Smith.
– Dr. Hull, an orthopedic doctor from Fort Worth, visited many schools to talk about Deaf Smith. He visited TSD three times since then.
- Dr. Baldwin wrote a three-part series about the history of TSD land in which he focused on the impact of Deaf Smith’s contemporaries who established the school in 1856.
- The Moses Austin Chapter #12 of the Sons of the Republic of Texas invited Dr. Baldwin to talk about Deaf Smith and TSD. The following year the descendants of Texians and Rangers gave a presentation and demonstration of artillery at the TSD campus.
2017 – Dr. Hull and his brother Andy presented TSD Superintendent Bugen with a large framed replica of the Smith family bible pages listing Deaf Smith and his relatives’ birth and death dates.
2018 – Dr. Baldwin gave a tour of the state capitol to Dr. Wendell Todd of Emory University. He wanted to see the large Huddle and McArdle paintings that depict Deaf Smith in action and in poise. Dr. Todd used scientific methods to prove Smith’s hearing loss for a research paper and national presentation.
2019 – In a formal letter from Texas A&M Forest Service, the agency certified and confirmed the salvaged logs that Dr. Baldwin collected from the Deaf Smith Oak Tree in La Vernia, Texas in 2011.
2020 – The Deaf Texan, the official publication of Texas Association of the Deaf, published Baldwin’s new three-part series about Deaf Smith, which is now available for school programs and the general public. Part Two of the series announces the name of Smith’s hearing dog: “Alarum.”
- The City of San Antonio announced visionary plans to install an Alamo Sculpture Trail without naming Deaf Smith as one of the chosen figures. Consequently, Drs. Baldwin and Hull, and Andy Hull wrote letters of protest to the Briscoe Museum and Western Art and the city council. They asked that the statues of Deaf Smith and his son-in-law Hendrick Arnold, a freed slave and a battle hero, be added to make the plaza plan more diverse. The Hulls and Baldwin remain vigilant about this project, though due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the statue plans were postponed.
- Retired from Gallaudet University, Theater Arts professor/playwright/author Willy Conley announced that the 1985 Deaf Smith play was chosen for his new Deaf plays anthology book. The script and video will also be added to the 2022 book by the New York and London publisher.
2021 – Revisions made to update the Deaf Smith collection social studies lesson plans for use by educators and students.
2025 – Deaf Smith’s missing grave is finally located a block from Houston and Sixth Street in Richmond. Texas Historical Commission and Texas State Historical Association financed the excavation with additional support from the Governor’s Office on People with Disabilities, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, and the Texas Association of the Deaf. Thanks to the Hull brothers’ DNA, the remains were positively identified.
Vocational Rehabilitation: A Quick HistoryPosted by Donna Valverde-Hummel on 3/30/2021 9:45:00 AM
Parents and students with disabilities may not be aware that the history of vocational rehabilitation (VR) stretches back more than a hundred years ago, starting after World War I with injured soldiers returning home. Many vets needed training or services to assist them in going back to work, often in a different field with specific modifications or accommodations, like someone who might’ve lost a leg during the war could be trained for an occupation not requiring standing or extensive walking.
Widely popular among the American public, Congress eventually passed legislation in 1918 to allow these important vocational rehabilitation services for veterans. By 1920, the law was expanded to include workforce services for all people with physical disabilities. Continued expansions and additional acts resulted in 1943, 1954, 1965, and 1973.
Congress eventually expanded VR disability criteria and later included services for students, ages 14-22 who have disabilities, with the passing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) in 2014, bringing sweeping changes to the VR system. Once solely under the US Department of Education, WIOA placed shared responsibility for VR equally under the Department of Education and the US Department of Labor.
All of this was meant to bridge the gap between K-12 students and their transition into post-secondary education or the world of work. WIOA instructed local labor boards, known in Texas as Workforce Solutions, to provide additional services to students with disabilities, from age 14 and up to age 22. VR was then integrated into the state labor department, Texas Workforce Commission. Additionally, WIOA directed state VR agencies to allocate 15% of their budgets to serve students eligible for Pre-Employment Transition Services.
With VR Pre-Employment Transition Services, students with disabilities now benefit from:
- Job exploration counseling
- Work-based learning opportunities
- Counseling on post-secondary opportunities
- Workplace readiness training
- Instruction in self-advocacy
For Texas students who are deaf or hard of hearing and approaching transition, the Statewide Outreach Center (SOC) at Texas School for the Deaf, Texas Workforce Commission, and others are working together to offer excellent pre-ETS I Can! opportunities:
- I Can! Work: Build My Lifestyle
- I Can! Work: Outdoor Education
- I Can! Work: Lifeguard Training
- I Can! Gear Up for Success: Deaf Advocacy
- I Can! Gear Up for Success: College & Careers
SOC at TSD also gives technical assistance to students, their families, and professionals who may need help navigating VR services. Students should start their journey as soon as possible to ensure that they have their seat at the table in the world of work. Explore all upcoming SOC student programs or contact us to get started.
Pandemic ResponsePosted by Aaron Mowell on 2/26/2021 10:05:00 AM
It has been just a year since we became aware of a new COVID-19 virus and the first few cases here in America. Since then, we have gone through a flurry of changes implementing new practices and protocols. From learning new technologies, like Zoom to effectively work remotely, to what social distancing is like, and everyone eager to find new ways to connect amid physical separation. We all saw world leaders, local and state governments, and our schools react in various ways to address growing concerns and increase precautions for what became a global pandemic. Many effects are yet to be known, as we are still in this crisis, though some will be long-term.
We saw cities and schools initially respond to the pandemic with different perspectives. Early on there were strict limits on the number of people who could gather in public places, restaurants only providing take-out, and schools transitioning to remote learning. Then eventually protected face-to-face interactions were more allowable, and in-person instruction restarted, though what that means for everyone now is very different. To a child, all these changes may seem sudden and unsettling.
Those in our younger generation are surely watching in wonder the countless responses to the current pandemic, and certainly must be pondering - “What is the correct response?”
For families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, you may be asking:
Who is doing the right thing?
How do I know what I am doing is helping?
How do I talk with my child about this?
What we can do as families is open a dialogue with our children and begin a discussion on what responses seem right or wrong. As parents, the power and opportunity to open a discussion with your child about the country, state, and city’s response to COVID-19 is yours. You might talk about the different responses seen in other communities or other countries. See what your child thinks is successful, and ask why. Give your child ownership by allowing them to lead the discussion and challenge them to share what they might do if they were in charge of addressing this, or the next, pandemic. As many of us know, the effectiveness of various responses may not be known until years of study have been done. Until then, in any such uncertain times, having open discussions can only help our children better understand the thought processes behind many of these events. Speaking frankly among family helps us all process new events and changes around us. Our children are watching and learning from us. Hopefully what we do and how we learn to face adversity as adults, will also help them to increase their coping skills and expand their world knowledge.
The Benefits of Youth Summer Programs for Deaf and Hard of HearingPosted by Rachella Moore on 2/19/2021 4:00:00 PM
Have you wondered about the outcomes when young people who are deaf or hard of hearing participate in extracurricular summer activities? A great study from the National Deaf Center (NDC), Deaf Youth and Summer Programs: The Why and How, reveals some interesting findings that highlight the impacts shown for many who attend summer youth camps and educational programs.
The NDC reports that deaf students who attend youth programs do positively benefit, especially in these three areas of self-development:
Career: Students who participate in any program with targeted goals such as STEM, robotics, creative writing or the like, can be “positively affected through summer programming.” And even further, programs with internship opportunities have shown to promote deaf individuals’ career decision-making skills.
Education: Through participation in a summer learning program, there is a correlation that shows an increase in college enrollment as well as an increased motivation to complete college. Improvements in reading achievement, reading enjoyment, and math achievement are also reported.
Youth: Self-esteem and self-confidence are commonly seen when younger campers, as well as those who may be economically disadvantaged, attend a youth camp or summer learning program. These opportunities have shown to foster the development of students’ social skills, self-identities, values, spiritual awareness, self-reliance, and more.
Concluding with an abundance of positive outcomes for deaf and hard of hearing youth, opportunities to extend learning for students through the summer months is a good thing.
If ever in a position to establish and sustain a youth program for students who are deaf and hard of hearing in your area, even for the summer only, our recommendations align with NDC‘s findings, and we encourage you to go for it!
Some ideas we’ve found which are of interest to students who are deaf and hard of hearing:
- Establish a Junior National Association Deaf chapter
- Start a conversation with a school’s robotics team and make it a mainstreamed program
- Contact an “already-established” program and make it accessible for those who are deaf and hard of hearing
© 2019 “Deaf Youth and Summer Programs: The Why and How. National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes Deaf Youth and Summer Programs licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International
First Virtual Family Weekend RetreatPosted by Shelly Bergeron on 2/12/2021 10:15:00 AM
Family Weekend Retreat (FWR) 2020 was a successful virtual retreat. Over 575 family members participated AND we welcomed more than 252 professionals from across Texas who joined us this year!
Presentations were full of wisdom and knowledge on a variety of relevant topics including communication, family involvement, social-emotional growth, resources, and unilateral hearing loss. We were honored to have our keynote speaker, Nida Din, who is the first deaf Pakistani-American Muslim woman to become an attorney.
A family member provided this inspirational input:
“I enjoyed that we can watch all the presentations online better than just attending in person. If we can have both the family fun weekend with everyone and online presentations [that] will be awesome”
And that is exactly what the FWR planning team has been working towards- a unique weeklong retreat this year, from May 31- June 5, 2021, with weekend activities.
Imparting Black History ValuePosted by Crystal Schwartz- Guest Blogger on 2/5/2021 10:15:00 AM
A year spans 12 months, and February is recognized as a month dedicated to my race and history. Black History Month accounts for what we, in America, see or experience. History recognizes impact. History is documented to preserve value in what individuals have contributed to the greatness of who we are today. The goal of this one month being dedicated to Black History awareness is to carry on the accomplishments of many great leaders dating back to 1915. Another goal is to keep recognizing achievements that bring progression towards equality of the human race.
During the civil rights movement, February was chosen to recognize the value of Black people to America’s Society and continue to promote equality. It is a celebration of varying positive impacts made towards progression and advancement. It is the one month that celebrates Black people. This influences the progression of justice and equality for Black people. . When I read about what those before me went through, and then reflect on what we are going through today, I feel connected to history. I embrace the wisdom of what many went through before me. Their experiences and our experiences today bring a wealth of wisdom and knowledge to our value in America.
I am educated. I am a professional. I am a Black woman in America. I am also Deaf. I reside in Fort Worth, Texas with my White husband, who is hard of hearing, and our deaf and hard of hearing children who are of both races. Understanding my history and the greatness of it is a constant reminder that I matter and that I, too, am valuable.
That feeling inspires me to keep going.
Carter G Woodson said it best when he said, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of Biography and History.” Inspiration comes from understanding the value of the history of Black people and their contribution to the betterment of America.
Black history has long-reaching impacts and in the area of education, and there is still history to be made. Testimonies and data verify that Black deaf and hard of hearing students in America currently feel unvalued by teachers, peers, and society. These feelings go back years in history, from slavery and segregation to incarceration and criminalization. Understanding the foundation of oppression is essential in understanding current educational trends and data surrounding racism and barriers.
As we celebrate Black History Month in 2021, Black History awareness in schools and learning environments is essential for students. Data shows that Black deaf and hard of hearing children are falling behind in school during the pandemic and feel the impact of social unrest more than their other peers. It is essential that parents, teachers, counselors, and professionals take the 28-29 days each February to embrace Black History Month. Inspiration comes through by way of instruction.
I believe in order to empower another soul to do great work, one must take the step to do great work themselves. Great work leads to a greater impact and moves us towards progress. Collaboration between schools, organizations, and legislation is a good step towards improving education for Black deaf and hard of hearing students. Throughout time, collaborations would ensure that Black deaf and hard of hearing students can have the same access to the same privileges as their peers, education-wise.
Raise up Black deaf and hard of hearing teachers.
Raise up Black deaf and hard of hearing professionals.
Raise up Black deaf and hard of hearing engineers.
Raise up Black deaf and hard of hearing influencers.
Raise up Black deaf and hard of hearing artists.
Raise up Black deaf and hard of hearing counselors.
Raise them all up and watch positive results happen.
Greatness starts, grows, and is maintained with a sense of value. How a student is valued or perceived impacts how that student grows to become a leader who may later be recognized for making a positive impact on progress. There is value in how one teaches and learns.
“Education is all a matter of building bridges,” said Ralph Ellison. I then, say this to you - parents, teachers, and professionals – an internalized value that leads to greatness starts with you. Black History Month is an essential time to embrace Black wisdom and be inspired by the accomplishments of Black people.
Discovery Retreat in San Antonio, TXPosted by Debbie Schiraldi on 1/29/2021 9:20:00 AM
A one-day Discovery Retreat (DR) was held for twelve central Texas high school students who are deaf or hard of hearing to gain hands-on experience in conservation. The students got to meet and learn from different professionals in the field of conservation about their passions for conservation projects. One of the individuals they met is Sachiko Flores, the cofounder of Corps That!. Read more about Sachiko Flores from last week’s blog post.
After lunch, students participated in a beautification and conservation project at Mission San Jose in San Antonio. With the help of mission staff, students put in three hours of work on the grounds of the mission. The end product was beautiful! The day wrapped up with a guided tour of the mission.
The retreat was a successful partnership with the Statewide Outreach Center at Texas School for the Deaf, thanks to American Youthworks (AYW) and the National Park Service (NPS).
The fruit of this partnership is a new and upcoming four-week summer program, I Can! Work: Outdoor Education. This program will give students an opportunity to gain professional paid training in the field of conservation.
Sachiko Flores who?Posted by Rachella Moore on 1/22/2021 10:00:00 AM
Does the name ring a bell? Sachiko Flores? If not, after learning more about her, we’re sure the name will stick!
We had an opportunity to do an interview with Sachiko and briefly explored her journey from being a mainstream deaf student in Texas to a co-founder of an incredible nonprofit organization. Sachiko co-founded CorpsTHAT, a national organization, connecting the deaf and hard of hearing community to the outdoors through education, recreation and career development.
Sachiko Flores was one of the Statewide Outreach Center’s first Discovery Retreat participants in 2005. Discovery Retreat is one of SOC’s flagship programs designed specifically for deaf and hard of hearing teens, with opportunities to explore each individual’s self-identity and career options through adventurous learning activities alongside adult role models. The retreat mainly reaches out to students from mainstream educational programs who have not had ample opportunities to meet other deaf or hard of hearing peers or role models in their own communities.
Sachiko was a sophomore in a Texas high school when she first attended Discovery Retreat. She remembers herself as a shy and awkward teenager who silently struggled during her second year attending public school. The public school environment was new to Sachiko because she had been in private school from second through eighth grades without ASL interpreters.
“Discovery Retreat became one of the highlights of my life, she says. It played a significant role in my decision to establish CorpsTHAT. That experience allowed me to find my inner, authentic self. I found myself happier and free whenever I went outside; the outdoors allows me to build confidence, expand my creativity and understand better how my actions have a greater impact on the environment. I want other deaf and hard of hearing people to experience and appreciate Mother Nature as much as I do; so it led me to establish CorpsTHAT – a safe space where deaf and hard of hearing people feel included and able to comfortably participate in any conservation activities.”
We asked Sachiko what she would like to share with all deaf and hard of hearing teenagers in Texas who might be reading this article. Her response:
“As wise Yoda said, ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’ High school is a learning phase where you have the ability to try something new and step out of your comfort zone. It is up to you to decide how you want to thrive in high school.”
The exciting news is, this upcoming summer 2021, CorpsTHAT and American YouthWorks (AYW) will collaborate with the Statewide Outreach Center (SOC) to offer a paid opportunity for deaf youth to experience a summer conservation program. The four-week program is called “I Can! Work: Outdoor Education”, and we look forward to sharing this experience with teens who are deaf or hard of hearing. February 2020, CorpsTHAT, AYW and SOC completed a day long conservation project with San Antonio Missions as part of Discovery Retreat.
We all had so much fun that day!
The Generational Impact of Sign LanguagePosted by Lynn Reichert on 1/15/2021 8:15:00 AM
After a mom returned home from Family Weekend Retreat, she realized that she needed sign language support for her deaf son. Where would she learn to sign, with her son, at their pace? That search inspired the launch of the Family Signs pilot program sixteen years ago.
Since its inception, Family Signs has served an average of 180 families annually. A group of 10 incredible, professional instructors work with our ASL, SEE, and Spanish-speaking families. Our strong, yet flexible curriculum meets the needs of those families. While all of this is important for a successful program, the real success of the program is seen through its impact on family narratives.
- The father who told us that he signed at his son’s First Communion
- The mother who wrote an article for her church about learning sign language to communicate with her son who is deaf and autistic
- The grandmother who drove her granddaughter 50 miles each way to school every day so she could have access to sign language (This grandmother is one of our program’s biggest cheerleaders now.)
- The mother who told us that she could go to a deeper level of talking about feelings with her son, and could even lecture him a little bit
- The father whose child placed in the school district’s Spelling Bee
- The family that hosted a graduation celebration for their child’s grandparents who participated in the program
- The family that squeezes 8 family members into the living room to join the Family Signs class because they want to learn and support their deaf or hard of hearing child
These stories emphasize the idea that success starts with love for the child and inclusion of the child in all aspects of life, regardless of hearing levels. These families’ pathway to language and communication includes sign language; we have been honored to support them in their learning process.
Family Signs is a small piece of the foundational puzzle of language learning; it’s the families that put that puzzle together with their commitment, enthusiasm, and care. We appreciate the involvement of our Texas families and look forward to many more years of Family Sign classes.