Successful Loveland program aids deaf students

Six-year-old Jordy Homack walked into Room 3 at Monroe Elementary School and jumped into Katrina Robertson’s lap.

The eyes of the two girls lit up, and they started communicating with American Sign Language.

Jordy asked Robertson, an 11th-grader at Loveland High School, about her cochlear implant, pointing to her own ear.

Marsha Dorr, one of Jordy’s teachers, said Jordy, who is deaf and nonverbal, is uncomfortable wearing the implant but thinks it’s “cool” to see an older student wearing one.

She sees that she is not the only one with hearing loss, she said.

Jordy is part of an after-school group for elementary-age students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“When they come into this room, they’re the norm,” said Dorr, who works with deaf and hard-of-hearing students in preschool and grades K-5.

Eight students are in the group, which meets for two hours twice a month to do crafts, take field trips, work on communication skills and connect with high school students who went through Dorr’s hearing program while they were in elementary school.

“She developed an environment here where the kids feel like they have a home, a place they belong,” said Kim Miller, district audiologist. “It gives the kids a place to be themselves.”

On Thursday, students and staffers wore Santa hats while they made hand-print wreaths, ornaments and cards and frosted sugar cookies for a holiday party, working at different centers set up at tables in the classroom.

Dorr started off the nearly two-hour program by introducing the plans for the afternoon, followed by Happy-Sad, an activity in which the older and younger students describe a good event and not-so-good event from the previous week.

“It’s fun,” said Casey Latulip, a fourth-grader at Monroe. “You get to at least take a couple things home and share with your family.”

Dorr piloted the high school mentoring program this year to help her students realize they are not the only ones wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant, she said.

“I think it definitely builds their self-esteem and confidence,” Dorr said.

The older students provide an example of how to stand up for themselves in the classroom, Dorr said.

“They become role models to the younger students,” Dorr said.

Robertson, who wants to become a preschool teacher, said she identifies with the younger students.

“I can help the kids work on what they need and (help them) improve their signing,” she said.



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