Sutha Ramanathan, Kansas School for the Deaf

An individual can often be part of several cultural groups. So it is for Sutha Ramanathan, a deaf high school instructor at the Kansas School for the Deaf. Sutha was born in Sri Lanka. The journey from Sri Lanka to Kansas and the vast differences in cultures seemed enormous to Sutha, but the shared communication link and understanding of deafness bridged this immense distance.

Sutha’s family moved to Singapore before he entered the Singapore School for the Deaf. After completing kindergarten through 8th grade in a signing environment [SEE II], Sutha entered a public school education program where the majority of subjects were taught in mainstreamed classrooms without an interpreter. However, there was a homeroom class for the 30-40 deaf students in the school. A deaf teacher, who became a mentor to Sutha, taught this class and encouraged Sutha to consider entering the field of education.

Upon graduation from high school, Sutha came to the United States and received his teaching degree from Gallaudet University. Sutha states that because of such strong family support, he never felt that there were significant obstacles for him to get into the field of education.

One of Sutha’s first jobs was teaching at the Center on Deafness at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. This center worked with post-secondary students who required additional educational support before entering the work force or continued educational programs. Sutha enjoyed this placement. Then, the opportunity to move to Kansas presented itself and he took it.

Sutha acknowledges that one of the most meaningful experiences that impacted his teaching career was the project ASL/English Bilingual Staff Development Model in Deaf Education [STAR Schools]. This two-year training project gave Sutha and his teaching colleagues the chance to discuss diverse teaching experiences and cultural perspectives.

Sutha feels that he makes a difference in the classroom by sharing with his students his cultural experiences of growing up deaf in a country half a world away from Kansas.

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