Tag Archives: school for the deaf

Learn About TU: Practicum Experiences

This post will be the first in a series of installments that we will hope will be helpful to our readers out there who are current or future students who want to learn more about particular aspects of our Deaf Education program here at University of Tulsa. Today we will start with an invaluable experience: Practicum,

All schools of education require students to complete a certain number of practicum hours in order to graduate. We are certainly no exception, although the way the Deaf Ed program does practicum is a little unique.

Starting in their junior year, students will be engaged in three different practicum courses, one per semester. One of those will be in an elementary setting, another will be in a secondary setting, and the third may vary from person to person, depending on their interests. Most (but not all!) of our practicum students are placed in the Tulsa Public School District, in one of the public schools that has a Deaf Ed program. As a practicum student, you will observe and support the teacher doing lessons, but also create your own bulletin board (or other visual display), teach your own lesson, and possibly tutor a student.

But that’s not all! In our program we feel that teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing need to really get to know the Deaf Community – so every practicum experience has Deaf Community experience built in! We hope this will support our students’ understanding of ASL, as well as of Deaf culture before they enter the classroom as teachers.

Many of our students visit Kansas School for the Deaf, an amazing residential school, for a two week intensive practicum after the end of junior year as their third practicum site. But other students take on local practicums with itinerant teachers, early intervention programs, or ASL teachers. It is our goal that all these experiences will give our students all the skills they need to be successful teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the future!


2013-2014 Highlights

It’s hard to believe, but we have reached the end of the 2013/2014 academic year – today was the last official day of classes here at University of Tulsa. We had a really incredible year! Let’s recap.

-We started off the year with the wonderful news that TU’s Deaf Education program received a grant to fund our juniors and seniors for up to 50% of their tuition! Thanks to the hard work of Dr. Sharon Baker writing this grant.

-The beginning of this year also saw the beginning of Jessica Scott’s joining the Deaf Education faculty!

-As part of her literacy course, Jessica set up a free reading clinic for Deaf and hard of hearing students in the Tulsa area – which went amazingly well! Thanks to generous individual donors and The Frugal Bookworm we got some excellent children’s and adolescent books to start off our collection. Thanks so much to the AMAZING undergraduate students enrolled in the Literacy course who spent an hour every week working with a struggling Deaf or hard of hearing reader!

-Dr. Baker and Jessica Scott had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and stay on Gallaudet University campus for the Association of College Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACEDHH) conference, where we heard from politicians, university professors and researchers about the latest theory and research in teaching Deaf students!

-Dr. Baker had a number of very exciting guests in her Deaf History and Culture course, including Laurent Clerc’s great great granddaughter, who works at Oklahoma School for the Deaf, Dr. Peter Crume, who does research on Deaf and hard of hearing students in Kenya, and Marie Guard, a local preschool teacher who is deaf and recently chose to have cochlear implants.Image Image


Wow! What a year – we feel truly lucky to have the opportunities that we do. Some things to look forward to:

-Jessica Scott is working on a grant to expand the reading clinic to an academic year, where tutors trained in the spring course will be paid to tutor students in the fall. The grant will also give us access to better assessments, more materials and more books!

-The OKRID conference will be on TU campus this summer! Anyone in the area interested in ASL interpreting or Deaf Education should register and join us!

-The TU faculty plan to start some collaborations with the Deaf Education faculty at USAO in Chickasha, OK – we will keep you updated as those develop next year!

Readers – what new developments are you most excited about? What other ideas do you have for our program? We’d love to hear from you!

Meeting Laurent Clerc’s great, great granddaughter

In our Deaf Education program, Dr. Sharon Baker teaches a course in the spring on Deaf History and Culture. Throughout this course, students learn about the history of Deaf people (primarily but not exclusively in the United States), watch films about Deafness, and learn about cultural norms and practices among Deaf people.

This year, we were excited to learn that the great, great granddaughter of an important figure in Deaf history, Laurent Clerc (for more information on this important figure, click here), is a librarian at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf, and was available to video conference with our students! Those enrolled in the course were joined by some upperclassmen students and Jessica Scott, the other professor in the Deaf Education program.

photo[1]Sue Galloway was so kind in giving her time to speak to our students. She was able to share some amazing documents of Laurent Clerc’s, including a list of important figures in the United States that he met and a family album) as well as other keepsakes of his. She also shared her story of learning that he was her relative and how this brought her to the field of Deaf Education.

We were so lucky to be able to virtually meet her and learn about her experiences and family! Thanks so much to Sue Galloway for taking the time to join our class!


Student Profile: Shawna Compassi

Today we hear from one of our current students, Shawna Compassi!

What year are you?



What made you choose deaf education?

My brother and my mother are both hard of hearing. However, my brother, who is 12 now, has been in a rural school with no deaf education professionals. He would have benefitted greatly to have that kind of support.

Why did you choose to study at TU?

I  choose TU because I was raised in the surrounding area and I was drawn to the deaf education program.

What has been your favorite part of the program so far?

My favorite part of the program is how involved with classrooms, teachers, and students we are.

What are you most looking forward to in your final years in the program?

The thing I’m most looking forward to in the final years of the program is student teaching.

What are your goals for after graduation?

I want to go to graduate school and get my masters degree in elementary education.

What would you tell high school students who are interested in studying deaf education?

Deaf education is a very high need field! It feels so rewarding and the people, language, and culture areso amazing to be a part of!

On leaving the ACE-DHH conference and Gallaudet

photo 1Well, the Deaf Education faculty certainly had a wonderful and productive week in Washington DC, at the Association for College Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACE-DHH) photo 3conference! What a great time, and I am so happy it was on Gallaudet University campus, which I got to visit for the first time! Dr. Baker had already been on campus since last Friday working on the Visual Communication and Sign Language checklist (VCSL), filming ASL directions for implementation of this amazing assessment tool designed to evaluate the communication abilities of young Deaf children. The checklist will be distributed by Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2), a research group sponsored by the National Science Foundation. I (Jessica!) did not arrive until the following week, just a day before the conference began. But we spent that day productively – we had a meeting with some colleagues at Gallaudet and Lamar Universities to discuss a research project we are working on that will hopefully lead to some insights into how to better teach reading to young d/Deaf and hard of hearing children!

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Dr. Baker and I were also lucky to get to visit Kendall Demonstration Elementary School – KDES, the elementary school on Gallaudet University’s campus. Although they were busy, as is usual in elementary schools, we were lucky enough to get a tour of the school from one of the administrators. The school itself is beautiful, so many open spaces designed with the visual needs of Deaf children in mind. We also learned that they have a mandatory after school program for all students – which means that the students at KDES are in school until 5:30 every day! Can you imagine the opportunities for cognitive and linguistic growth these children have?

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And while we were leaving the school, we saw a flyer stand full of research briefs by VL2, one of which was authored by our very own Dr. Sharon Baker! It is about the importance and impact of fingerspelling on Deaf children, and has been translated into a number of languages. How exciting to see the work we are doing impact people not only across the United States, but across the world! KDES was not our only tour however – the VL2 labs very generously opened their doors to conference attendees, and we were able to see the space and researchers that have made so many contributions to research related to Deafness.

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That evening I was very fortunate to be able to attend a very exciting talk with some really excellent people. Dr’s Marlon Kuntze [see picture to the left], Ben Bahan [see picture below on the right] (who should be recognizable to those who learned ASL using the Signing Naturally series – at least the older version!), H-Dirksen Bauman, Beth Benedict and Catherine O’Brien all came for a panel discussion on the concept of “Deaf Gain” –
photo 5 the opposite of hearing loss! This discussion explored not only what individual students gain from their Deaf experience (linguistically, culturally, cognitively), but also what the world gains from the contribution of Deaf individuals (notably but not limited to: the football huddle, hand signals in baseball, closed captioning, and much more!) The conversation was lively, and I appreciated being able to see such amazing and creative minds discussing this important way of looking at Deafness.

The next day brought a number of wonderful presentations and opportunities to talk with others in the field. Dr. Baker presented a poster with colleagues from other universities about fingerspelling, a topic that is not frequently discussed in the literature. I attended a session about using Graphic Novels in a summer reading camp for Deaf students by Caroline Guardino of University of North Florida, and came away a lot of ideas that I hope to use in our tutoring program here at TU! I also had the opportunity to reconnect with faces from the past – a student I taught at Alaska State School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing is currently a junior at Gallaudet studying Social Work, and my student teaching supervisor and advisor from my alma mater, Flagler College, was also in attendance. A TU grad from last year, Stephanie Voss, also took time out from her master’s program to visit us on campus!

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Gallaudet University Press had a table with lots of books that have recently been published in our field, and needless to say I’ve come away with a wish list a mile long. (That also includes my love of some ASL number handshape clocks for sale in the bookstore!).

We also got to attend the Bilingual Special Interest Group meeting, a further discussion of Deaf Gain and how we can bring the concept of Deaf Gain into classrooms with Deaf children – capitalizing on their strengths and experiences as we teach them in multiple areas, including mathematics, literacy, and technology. These conversations were fascinating and important, and I count myself lucky to have been among colleagues who feel so passionately about these issues.

Finally, I presented this very afternoon on the use of translation during guided reading with Dr. Kuntze (of the Deaf Gain talk!) – we have been watching videos of children who are reading with their teachers and the type of translation they are engaging in – most commonly they are reading word for word, but we have some wonderful instances of children translating phrases and even complete sentences from English into beautiful ASL – a sure sign that students understand what they are reading!

I am writing this post from the Reagan National Airport in DC, reflecting on what an amazing time we had this week. Although it was very busy, it is so wonderful to be among passionate, committed educators who work with Deaf students (and those who are working with people who want to become teachers of Deaf students!). Although our work day to day in Tulsa can feel far away from others in the field, it is wonderful to know that we have colleagues that share our perspectives and experiences (and others who challenge these perspectives and experiences!). Monday, it’s back to classes and the reading clinic, but with a fresh perspective and new ideas from some amazing colleagues.

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Student Profiles: Erin Hoefer

1379698228134 Here is the second of our regular installments profiling a current student enrolled in the Deaf Education program at TU. Today we meet Erin Hoefer!

What year are you?


What made you choose deaf education?

It’s not only a professional choice, but a personal journey in understanding my own hearing loss

Why did you choose to study at TU?

I moved to Tulsa to study at TU when I learned of the Deaf Ed program. We knew we wanted to move to OK

from Japan. When investigating schools, I searched deaf programs and came up on TU. I knew that’s where we needed to go.

What has been your favorite part of the program so far?

The language and literacy development information is fascinating, especially dispelling the myths of language delay that happens in children that use visual language.

What are you most looking forward to in your final years in the program?

Student teaching and improving my ASL skills. Out of student teaching I hope to improve my planning skills and be an effective communicator for any needs in the class.

What are your goals for after graduation?  

To hopefully teach Deaf and hard of hearing students at the middle or high school levels, particularly in language arts

What would you tell high school students who are interested in studying deaf education?

It’s an amazing field with many opportunities.  You’re not limited to just one area of study, it’s multi faceted education.  It’s unique, and provides support and advocacy to a  group of people that aren’t always understood.  Take the chance, you’ll find it unbelievable what you and deaf children are capable of.

Alumni Profile: Jessie Menchak


We are less than a week away from the start of the spring semester. Looking forward to seeing all our great students back on campus – Except for Jessie Menchak, a Deaf Education major who just graduated in December! We asked her some questions about Deaf Education and her experiences at TU:

Jessie 1What made you choose deaf education?

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.  A friend of mine introduced me to ASL in high school. I chose deaf education because I realized that I loved ASL and I wanted to combine my desire to teach with ASL – hence deaf education 🙂

What was your favorite part of the program and why?

My favorite part of the program was when I had the opportunity to student teach at the Kansas School for the Deaf. I enjoyed this experience because I greatly improved my signing skills, met some incredible teachers with strong teaching methods and received practical experience in the field of deaf education.

What advice would you give to future Deaf Education majors at TU?

For those of you pursuing a degree in deaf ed, my advice is to study hard, make as many connections in the Deaf community that you can while in school and always keep your eyes open for opportunities to be a part of not only your school and church community, but also the Deaf community.

What was it like interning at Kansas School for the Deaf?

Awesome! Interning was the most difficult semester of my college career, yet the experience made me grow more in my ASL skills, in my ability to face and conquer challenges, and in my attitude toward teaching than anything other experience I had while at TU.

What do you plan to do next?

The next phase of my life consists of obtaining a masters degree in Educational Psychology, achieving a license in interpreting and substitute teaching as my occupation while I am furthering my education.

How do you think your Deaf Education degree will help you achieve these goals?

My deaf ed degree will help me achieve these goals by supplying foundational information about deaf education, deaf history, Deaf culture, and many other aspects of the Deaf World that I will build upon in my future endeavors.