Jenny Mabrey, The Kid's Place

I received a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Queens College in N.Y. Two weeks later, I became a teacher-in-training at Smith College/Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts, where I earned a master’s degree in deaf education.

I have worked as an itinerant hearing therapist and a classroom teacher for the Delaware County Intermediate Unit in Southeastern Pennsylvania for 29 years. In these roles, I team with parents and school staff to assess children and plan the best educational program for each child.

The past six years, I have taught in an integrated kindergarten program. Our full-day, curriculum-based oral program prepares children to assimilate into the general kindergarten curriculum. Each morning, I pre-teach the academic vocabulary and concepts my students will need in the integrated kindergarten setting as well as the incidental language they will need to socialize with hearing peers.

I have wanted to be a teacher of the deaf ever since I met two deaf brothers when I was in the third grade, and after many years of working in this field, I still feel humbled when I participate in team meetings that ultimately will make a difference in a child’s life. It is an honor to watch a child learn and grow as he reaches a milestone on his way to graduation and young adulthood.

Recently, I taught a kindergarten student whose mother had been in my class 20 years previously. Despite a greater hearing loss, he has learned language more easily because of new technologies and early intervention. His mother can better advocate for him with her school district because she has “been there.”

Another exciting experience was looking at life through a child’s eyes the first time he heard sound. One of my young students received bilateral cochlear implants, and I was privileged to accompany him when the second implant was turned on for the first time.

As a teacher of the deaf I appreciate and never underestimate the value of the human connection throughout a child’s education. Deaf education is a challenging career, but I remain an enthusiastic, dedicated teacher.

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