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SOESD / Special Education / News

What is the Measure of Success?

By Mark Moskowitz, Coordinator
Programs for Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Visually Impaired

Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing and the Visually Impaired often view successful students as individuals who can participate and succeed in school and in their community. Our teachers annually review progress at IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings and carefully craft goals and assist the educational team in setting instructional priorities for the coming year. The building blocks for success are measured in annual increments.

What about “the big picture?” 

Success is truly measured by what happens after our teaching and intervention. What happens after school? What have we done to make a difference for students after they transition into the adult world?  I’d like to share two examples of this measure of success. 

On April 19, 2008, the Ashland Daily Tidings  ran a front page article entitled “Pioneering a Program for the Deaf” (http://www.dailytidings.com/2008/0419/stories/0419_sou.php). Monica Alfaro is featured in the article. She is a Southern Oregon University sophomore who is deaf. Monica is the only full-time student at SOU who is deaf. The article summarizes Monica’s journey attending SOU. The Daily Tidings article states that “she has juggled two part-time jobs with a full course load, served as an orientation leader and Latino Student Union vice president, played indoor soccer and worked to start an American Sign Language Club.” Her roommate was quoted as saying “she’s a really great person, and she doesn’t let anything keep her from doing what she really wants.”  

Monica is from Klamath Falls and graduated from Henley High School (by the way, in her senior year in high school, she was a finalist in the Miss Klamath County Pageant). She competed with other southern Oregon PDHH students in the national Gallaudet University Brainbowl. She received educational support services from the Regional Program for Deaf/Hard of Hearing since preschool while attending schools in Klamath county. She received the foundation and building blocks for her success throughout her school career by learning necessary skills and gaining the access she deserved. Monica can do anything but hear!

Another example that I feel is a measure of success involves two students served by the Regional Program for the Visually Impaired. Curtis Norton graduated from South Medford High School last June, 2007. Emma McCready currently attends second grade at Orchard Hill Elementary here in the Rogue Valley. Both are visually impaired. Since coming to southern Oregon as a fifth grader, Curtis has learned braille, become an independent traveler, uses specialized technology to assist in his studies, and successfully completed training in use of a dog guide. He completed his course of study at SMHS and earned a full academic diploma with the support of the regional program. For his senior project, Curtis assisted the regional teacher of visually impaired by instructing Emma McCready in learning how to use an electronic braille notetaker.

Curtis working with Emma
Curtis working with Emma
His mentorship was a personal learning experience and an inspiration for Emma. Emma has been served locally by the Regional Program for the Visually Impaired since she was a preschooler. She currently excels in second grade. Curtis currently goes to school full time at George Fox College and is completing his freshman year.

These “can do” stories are our true measures of effective and appropriate educational intervention.  They measure what education can achieve.  The year-to-year IEP successes in learning the necessary compensatory skills to compete provide the backdrop for lifelong success.  They allow students to meet their real potential; and we, as a community, benefit, in turn, from these real life successes.






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