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  • Avoiding the Summer Slide

    Posted by Linda Miller on 7/2/2021 9:15:00 AM

    Avoiding the Summer Slide

    Every kid looks forward to summer. As that last day of school winds down, students can't wait to grab their backpacks and head for home, leaving behind all thoughts of homework, class assignments, quizzes, and tests.  

    And what happens when they get home?

    For many students, summer means days spent watching TV, playing video games, hanging out with friends, and avoiding anything that even implies it's educational.

    For most kids, this probably sounds like a perfect summer. But in reality, it can also be detrimental to their education.

    The Summer Slide

    During the summer, many students lose some of the educational gains they made during the school year. Known as the "summer slide," this phenomenon is even more dramatic with students of lower socioeconomic status (SES).

    In a   conducted by the Partnership for Children & Youth, researchers found that almost all participating students experienced a decline in math skills. However, when it came to reading fluency, children from higher-income families often still progressed, but at a slower pace. While the literacy skills of their peers, from lower-income families, actually decreased.

    These losses contribute to and increase the achievement gap - the difference in academic performance between upper and lower SES students.

    An Ounce of Prevention

    Learning doesn't have to stop just because school is out. But forcing kids to sit down with a workbook or flashcards isn't the answer- not while the sun is out and begging them to run and play.

    Instead, try some of these ideas to incorporate learning into their activities.

    Video Summary

    After a fun day at the park or the beach or wherever their adventures take them, have children summarize their day for a family member who wasn't involved. Video their summary while encouraging them with questions like "Who else was there?" and "What did you like the most?" The more detailed their descriptions, the better they will become at summarizing. Younger kids may enjoy drawing a picture first, and then describing what is going on in the picture. Note: this idea works well for movie reviews too. Just remind kids not to give away the ending!

     

    Obstacle Course

    Strengthen problem-solving skills by having kids create an obstacle course using hula hoops, pool noodles, rope, or other items found around the house. They might incorporate chalked activities on the driveway, use scrap lumber as a balance beam, create a "tunnel" from an empty box, or use toys as hurdles. Older kids can research more DIY ideas. First, have them run the course themselves to troubleshoot any issues, create rules for participants, and develop modifications that might work for younger children or older adults.  

    Board Game

    On bad weather days, ask kids to create a themed board game around a favorite topic, like baseball, insects, or dinosaurs. They'll need to sketch their design, write down the rules, research the subject, and finally create the board - all of which is learning in disguise! Have fun playing the game with them once they're done.

    Field Trips

    Being mindful about the activities you plan outside the home can turn an outing into a learning experience. Take in a factory tour, check out an animal sanctuary, explore a botanical garden, visit your local fire or police station, ask your favorite restaurant for a kitchen tour, or your usual grocery store for a behind-the-scenes look at the operations. Search out a "You-pick-'em" farm and let kids harvest their own fruits or veggies. Search online to find more ideas specific to your area.

    Take a Hike

    Hikes are ripe with educational opportunities. For example, kids can learn to use a compass and play the "Find North" game by stopping every once in a while and having everyone try to guess which way is north. Borrow a plant identification book from the library, or use an app like Picture This. Then have kids record their findings in a pocket-sized journal or notebook. A hike is also the perfect opportunity to teach Leave No Trace principles, which help minimize our activities' impact on nature.

    Backyard Camping

    Have kids take the lead to plan and carry out an overnight campout. From figuring out how to pitch a tent, or how to create their own, to deciding on food and games to play, this hands-on adventure will strengthen organizing and problem-solving skills.

    Get Cooking

    Have kids make muffins and double or half the recipe to reinforce math skills. Teach them to make their own popsicles using healthy ingredients. Let them help you create meals, try new dishes from various cultures, or find something to make that is from a different time in history. Allow them to research a recipe and make a list of the items needed. They can shop with you and compare prices. Then at home, either prepare the recipe together or supervise while they read, measure, and follow the recipe's directions.

    Outdoor Experiments

    Science skills involve observation, communication, measuring, and predicting. Reinforce these skills by having kids conduct experiments. Encourage kids to predict what might happen, measure results, and communicate their findings to you or other family members. Some ideas might be to try to sprout seeds in different media, like water, dirt, coffee grounds, etc., or conduct gravity experiments with toys, try dying flowers using food coloring and water, build a solar oven from a shoebox and foil to make s'mores, make ice cream in a bag, construct balloon rockets or paper airplanes. Find countless ideas online or at your library.

    Volunteering

    Foster compassion and responsibility by involving your kids in volunteer activities. You can seek out opportunities in your area or organize something close to home. KIds can clean up an area of your nearest park, collect canned goods from neighbors and go with you to deliver them to the local food bank, make birdseed suet cakes for your backyard friends, conduct a paper towel drive and donate them to a local animal shelter, go through their closets and choose clothes and shoes they can't wear anymore or toys that no longer interest them to donate.

    Read

    Probably the single most important thing you can do to reinforce your child's learning is to have them read. Make sure to model reading yourself since children take cues from your actions. You can also help them construct cozy reading nooks - one for outside as well as inside.

    To make sure that reading is a part of your summer, and year-round, experience:

    • Plan activities themed from a recently finished book, like visiting a farm after reading Charlotte's Web or making cookies after reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Use our recipe in this lesson plan.
    • After reading a book that's been made into a movie, host a family movie night to watch the film version.
    • Keep books visible around the house, not just on the shelf where they can't see the cover. Check out books from the library based on favorite topics and leave them lying around the house and in the car.
    • Help kids sign up for their own library card and visit the library regularly. It's an excellent resource for summer activities.
    • Let older readers use a headlamp and stay up an extra 30 minutes to read before going to bed. The headlamp makes it fun, and the kids get a sense that books are special when they get permission to stay up late.
    • In addition to books, offer your kids magazines, comic books, newspapers, and even blog posts you find about their favorite subjects. Reading can be found everywhere - restaurant menus, product specifications, song lyrics, poetry, travel brochures, game instructions, and even on the back of a cereal box.

    These activities will help keep learning going during the hot summer months ahead and hopefully combat the "summer slide." Your child will have fun without realizing the activities are educational.

     

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  • Keeper of the Flame of the Future

    Posted by Guest Writer:Alexandria Rutowski on 6/18/2021 1:15:00 PM

    On March 25, 2021, the Junior NAD Chapter at the Texas School for the Deaf was the first in the U.S. to host its first-ever virtual Keeper of the Flame of the Future (KFF) award ceremony via Zoom with Dr. Frank Turk. The purpose of this honorable award ceremony is to recognize and show appreciation and gratitude for individuals who have had an impact on our deaf community with their contributions and services. 

    The event began with Jr. NAD members: Kiara Diaz, Rosalia Fraychineaud, Jacylyn Kelley, Zarek Nathanson, Zara Thompson, Jayne Taylor, Alyssa Glennon, Saul Penda Orellana, Za’Bella Tomlinson, and Anahit Tadevosyan in attendance, along with our Jr. NAD sponsor, Jennifer Campero, the Director of the Statewide Outreach Center at Texas School for the Deaf (TSD), Bobbie Beth Scoggins, and the six award recipients: Dr. Steve Baldwin, Claire Bugen, Jennifer Campero, Julian “Buddy” Singleton, Bernice Singleton, and Christopher Soukup. We also had the honor of having Gallaudet’s Director of Youth Programs, Chanel Bonheyo, join us, too! The Jr. NAD members from TSD were ecstatic for the opportunity to award every recipient. There were breakout sessions held with five leading questions the Jr. NAD members asked the recipients. 

    Screenshot of Participants

    What drove those leaders to make a difference? And, what were their challenges? 

     

    Of course, words of wisdom were shared. 

    Students thought the discussions during the breakout sessions were engaging, and they learned a lot of great tips from the recipients. We learned that they each recognize the importance of involving community members of all ages, as that is what leads to success. The students appreciated that they have a responsibility to be skilled in mingling and develop opportunities for coaching, mentoring, and networking, with people of all ages and rather than keeping within the same age group. 

    Regardless of our recipients' careers and spheres of interests, these individuals have something essential in common - they love their jobs and each has goals to do their best to serve the community. They are role models for the younger generations. Like Turk emphasized on several occasions about the importance of the five generations: teenagers, millennials, parents, retirees, and seniors - we, young people, also have the responsibility to aim to remember to include five generations of people in all of our committees’ work. Generations of people with experiences will contribute to the growth of our successes. 

    I would also like to emphasize that the teachers, staff, and professionals deserve our gratitude for their hard and honest work, strong efforts, and support in promoting personal development and preparing young people for a successful future. And most importantly, for upbringing each unique young personality and instilling a determined mind and open heart in our changing world. 

    I am confident that our student leaders will progress in the future and contribute to the common well-being of the whole community. 

    We must always remember that when we are looking up to our older generations for guidance, there are younger generations looking up to us. Embrace the knowledge shared by your mentors, and pass on what you have learned to others. 

     

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  • Coping Tips For Big Emotions

    Posted by Trish Grooms on 6/4/2021 4:15:00 PM

    This past year, the coronavirus pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the mental health of kids of all ages, and continues to do so to this day. The good news is, that children, even young children, can learn to cope with the mental health challenges that come their way. 

     

    Here are some tips to help your child cope with those big emotions and build confidence. 

     

    • Model managing difficult feelings of your own. If your child sees you angry, scared, or nervous, bring them into the conversation. Tell them what you are feeling, why, and how are you going to handle it. This helps them learn how to do the same.

     

    • Support and identify feelings. It is important for young children to know that big emotions are normal and can be manageable. When you see your child angry or frustrated, let them know that you “hear” them. “It looks like you are really frustrated right now. I feel that way sometimes, too.”

     

    • Use positive attention. When your child takes an action - even a small one - to cope with a hard or big emotion, praise them right away. For example, if you see your child take a deep breath in the middle of a tantrum or breakdown, immediately say “I like that you took a deep breath! Let’s do another one together.”

     

    • Solve problems together. Talk over what is bothering your child and brainstorm solutions, rather than telling them what you think they should do. Lead with curiosity and ask open ended questions to get them talking.

     

    • Model positive self-talk. Try to avoid criticizing yourself in front of your child. You can even show kids how to correct critical thoughts in real time.  “I called myself stupid when I forgot my wallet, but I know I am pretty smart most of the time. Forgetting something from time to time is not a big deal.”

     

    • Praise perseverance. Praise your child for their efforts as much as their accomplishments. This helps them internalize that their work matters and that they don’t need to be perfect.

     

    • Show the love!  Let your child know that you think that they are great, whether they do great things or not. That means a lot of affection and affirmation when they win, when they lose, and even when they drive you nuts!

     

    • Look out for signs of a bigger problem. If your child consistently has low self-esteem that does not improve over time and gets in the way of their daily life, consider getting support from a mental health professional. 



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  • Sharing Fears, Dreams, and Journeys: Guides Can Make a Difference

    Posted by Michaela Hamaker on 5/21/2021 8:15:00 AM

    A partner of the Statewide Outreach Center since 2010 working with families across the state, Texas Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side (GBYS) is a family support program providing unbiased guidance and information to families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing through peer-to-peer support, matching “guides” directly with families. 

    Research shows there are positive outcomes for children when educated and involved parents receive information and support, parent-to-parent guidance, and exposure to other adults who are deaf and hard of hearing. 

    A natural comfort level exists when relating to another who has walked in our shoes. These guides have been there, and can help to understand and navigate a system of resources. 

    One family who was matched and received support from a guide shared this feedback.

    “I wanted to make sure you knew how thankful I am for your guidance and support over this past year. You were there for me through some tough times with my son’s school situation and for that I will always be grateful.  We were at the height of our stress and frustration when I was connected with you and it really, really helped us get through it. Having your support made the difference. 

    Our son has been doing so much better at his school. He has shown improvement and is growing in ways we haven't seen before., and he is supported so well by all the staff.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for always being there for me and for keeping me informed along the way. You were wonderful for our family and we were blessed to be matched with you. 

    We are so thankful to our guide and for your wonderful program. Having her by my side was what I needed. Advocating for our children can be very difficult especially when we felt we were being pushed aside. She helped my husband and I find our voice for our son., and I saw a side of me emerge that I didn't know was there. Standing up to a district when you know your son's needs are not being met, even in the most basic ways, is a sure to get the “mama bear” instinct to kick in! Without her lending her ear, guidance, and encouragement, I don't think our ARD meetings would have been as successful. I am SO thankful we are all at a better place now!”

    This family’s experience is what the GBYS program hopes for all families. With guidance and support, families experience a sense of empowerment in the choices they make, and learn to position their child for success.

    Are you a family who could use support? Are you a professional who knows a family who could benefit from the interaction with a guide? 

    Reach out to us and we can connect you!

    It’s quick and easy to enroll in the GBYS program,  in English or Spanish

     

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  • ASL Storytelling Program Supports Deaf Education Classrooms

    Posted by ASL Storytelling on 5/7/2021 9:15:00 AM

    ASL Storytelling - students watching a caucasian woman signing story on screen.Did you know that the Statewide Outreach Center (SOC) at Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) provides free weekly ASL Storytelling classes to any deaf education classroom in the state of Texas?

    You may wonder if these classes are a good fit for you and your students, so keep reading and find out all about the SOC’s ASL Storytelling program.

    What are weekly ASL Storytelling classes?

    ASL Storytelling classes are free for deaf education classroom teachers and students done through interactive video. ASL Storytelling classes are 20-30 minutes every week at the same time depending on students’ needs and classroom schedules. Here in our studio at TSD, we have a green screen where ASL storytellers can superimpose themselves over the pages of children’s books and lessons. SOC’s storytellers serve as deaf role models for students while reading books and providing language and literacy support. 

    What age groups are ASL Storytelling classes for?

    ASL Storytelling primarily serves elementary classrooms; with resources permitting, middle and high school classes can be held as well. For elementary classes, a storyteller will read books and play comprehension games. For middle and high school students, weekly lessons are modified to cover more complex topics such as deaf culture, history, current events, and American Sign Language (ASL). We want to support teachers’ and students' needs. If you are teaching a specific topic or theme, we can find books and content to mirror your class lessons. You can also request specific books or topics relevant to your students’ learning. 

    Do students need to be fluent in ASL?

    Absolutely not. We are here to support the literacy and language needs of a variety of students whether they be fluent in ASL, Signed Exact English (SEE), oral or any other form of communication. Some of our current students are oral and just learning ASL while others are fluent signers. Experienced ASL storytellers can match the language needs of your students and modify their language and teaching strategies to best serve them.

    What do I need to do to join ASL Storytelling?

    ASL Storytelling classes are absolutely free to deaf education classrooms across the state of Texas. We strive to make it as easy as possible to join the program. All you need to do is sign up and register. We will provide you with a free webcam that can pan and zoom. After you have filled out the registration form we will ship the camera to you and schedule a weekly class time that works best for your schedule. You will have a link to use to connect to class each week at the same time. We ask that you hook up the webcam to a projector or SMART Board®. 

    We feel reading to children is key for improving vocabulary and language skills. Over the years, we have had many teachers join us and others who keep coming back every year with rave reviews. ASL Storytelling would love to have you and your students join us - so sign up today.

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  • From a Retreat to the Deaf Education Classroom

    Posted 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.

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  • Updating the Deaf Smith Chronology

    Posted by Dr. Steve C. Baldwin on 4/13/2021 3:45:00 PM

    A male and a female is standing in front of a TV, signing to a group to students.

    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.

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  • Vocational Rehabilitation: A Quick History

    Posted 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:

     

    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. 

     

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  • Pandemic Response

    Posted 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.       

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  • The Benefits of Youth Summer Programs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

    Posted 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

     

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