Saturday, December 24, 2005

End of Term

It’s been a good first half of the school year at the school for the deaf (even though this is the first time I’m writing anything about it this school year – so many other things were going on). On the 15th of December, we had our closing ceremony for the first term. Several parents came and the students ‘sang’ some Christmas songs, quoted some Bible verses, and performed a couple of skits. I know we need to do a few more programs like this during the year. Each time we have a program inviting the parents, the ones who come always talk about how touched and amazed they are to see how well-behaved their children are in the school and to see them signing, 'talking' to each other, 'talking' to the teachers and others who know sign, etc.

That’s one of the hardest things to do here – encourage the families and enlighten them so they become aware of the potential of their children with disabilities. So many of the parents struggle at home with their kids who are hard of hearing. They can’t communicate with them, the kids get frustrated and act out and the parents get frustrated and feel helpless. The parents decide that their kids really can’t do much of anything and will never be able to do much of anything.

It’s a huge struggle to be deaf or hard of hearing in Africa. There is so much stereotyping to overcome. I was listening to a program on BBC (the news station I most often can receive and listen to on the radio in Ghana) recently that was talking to listeners about what the blind and deaf are and are not capable of doing – about the possibilities out there for them and whether or not an employer could consider a person with visual or hearing limitations for a position, etc. If I could remember the date of the program I’d put a link in here so people could check it out. It was amazing how many people from Africa called in to say that people with such limitations can only be pitied and nothing can be expected from them.

But, back to the school for the deaf. I think the last time I wrote about it was early in August (pre-blog). At that time we were trying to make some changes – change the name of the school, add a few people to the Board of Directors, register the school under the Ghana government, etc. However, the founders of the school were strongly against any of these changes – they felt the school was theirs and that these changes would take the school away from them. So, the pace of the change making was slowed a bit.

I returned from my break to find some new people on the Board of Directors. It was a good start – I was happy to see that had taken place. And they were good people, too – people without the shared history of the school – people who wouldn’t be afraid to speak their minds, even if doing so meant contradicting the founders. So I was excited to work with them – we had a meeting two days after my return from break. And in the few meetings we’ve had before the term ended we were able to bring up the important developments needing to take place.

In addition to a stronger Board of Directors, the head of the PTA has been much more involved in the school. We also have a physical education teacher who’s been doing a great job – something we haven’t had before. The teachers seem more motivated this year. One of our teachers received advanced training focused particularly on the younger children, which has been the most challenging age group for our teachers in the past. He has taken over instruction of the class with the youngest children and is doing a fabulous job – implementing new ideas to instruct and interest the children. And we have a financial secretary on the Board of Directors who is extremely reliable and trustworthy, and as a result has taken a huge load off my shoulders.

With all that was going on with Abbie during the past few months, I was always happy when I had the opportunity to go to the school and to observe that things were going so smoothly.

If you want to hear more about the school for the deaf, I recently did an interview, which was aired on Chicago Public Radio (I did the interview while I was on my break, it aired on October 27, after my return to Ghana, and I’m finally getting a chance to ‘officially’ refer people to it now). Click on the word interview and you should go right there. There's an interview preceding mine. It's interesting to listen to, but if you want to skip straight to the information on the school for the deaf, then slide the time bar to 14 minutes, which is where my talk begins. It takes a little more than 13 minutes to listen to the whole talk.


At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

excelllent update! thanks!

as a teacher for the deaf here in california, i've been collecting materials for the students...sign tapes, books, supplies.

if any of you have nay ideas on how ti send these items without costing a fortune, please let me know!


wishing you all the best for the new year!

wish i was there teaching!



At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes some of the bigger companies or organizations are willing to either ship things or pay for shipping in return for some free publicity about their help---like a newspaper article or something like that.


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