Tracey Francis, Booker T. Washington Elementary

My name is Tracey Francis; I was born and raised in the rural country area of Confluence (Eastern) Kentucky. When I was a young child of 6, my cousin graduated from Eastern Kentucky University and returned home as an itinerant teacher of deaf/hard of hearing students. I remember being in awe of how people could communicate in sign language. Later, I became friends with two individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. One of them was oral, while the other used American Sign Language (ASL). I slowly became more amazed at the beauty of the language and culture.

I chose deaf education as a major after considering the teachers who had impacted my life and my childhood interest in deaf culture. I received my BA degree in 2002 and began work as an itinerant teacher. In 2006, I earned my master’s degree. Teaching is my heart; my work is so rewarding. It has taught me a respect for children and language. Teaching young children to communicate has helped me acquire patience and a passion to succeed.

As an itinerant teacher, I have worked with children Preschool-Grade 12 and enjoy the range of ages. My students have diverse hearing losses and communication needs, requiring me to employ a variety of communication modalities. I believe that language is the key to a child’s success as a student and adult. Language barriers for D/HH students persist throughout their lives. . I have experienced this through teaching a variety of grade levels and interacting with deaf individuals. Hearing loss is part of their life and their culture. As a teacher, I need to incorporate deaf culture into my teaching.

Teaching has made me think about how I want to make a difference in the world. I feel that I have made a difference one student and one family at a time. I want my classroom to be inviting, so I try to involve families as much as possible. I feel it is important for parents to advocate for their child. Advocacy is the life skill that will lead to success after my students have graduated.

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