Cheryl Lindstrom assists a preschooler in his signing of the letter “d.”
McChord Air Force Base — “D-i-n-o-s-a-u-r,” the seven little hands sign. “D” is the letter of the week in Clover Park School District’s (CPSD) new deaf and hearing impaired preschool program at Carter Lake Elementary School. Students are learning the names of animals, shapes and vocabulary words that begin with the letter “d.”
The three- to four-year-old students spend four half-days a week in the enriched preschool setting that was designed to serve CPSD’s deaf and hearing impaired early learners. Prior to the implementation of the program, deaf and hearing impaired students were sent to neighboring school districts for early childhood education. Five of the seven preschoolers are from military families.
The class is taught by Lisa Hough, who is deaf. Interpreters Jeanne Fattrusso and Cheryl Lindstrom assist Hough with teaching and classroom activities. The teachers use Sign Language while also speaking to students. Five of the seven students are deaf or hearing impaired‚Äîthe other two students serve as peer models and do not have special needs.
“I am able to use my own experiences as a person with a hearing loss to help my students to be active and engaging learners,” said Hough who grew up hearing impaired and lost nearly all of her hearing 11 years ago. “I use non-traditional methods like puppets, dress up and visual aids to teach my students.”
Most of the students use behind-the-ear hearing aids and two have cochlear implant processors‚Äîsmall, complex electronic devices that help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing. Hough has a behind- the-ear hearing aid and a cochlear implant processor.
“This program has given Carter Lake students the opportunity to interact and learn about another language and culture,” said Paul Douglas, Carter Lake principal. “Our staff has excitedly begun to learn Sign Language and this excitement has carried over into the classroom and playground. Students beg teachers to share signs with them so they can play with our deaf and hearing impaired students. We are all learning and benefiting because of the staff, parents and children willing to share their experiences with us.”
CPSD’s Special Education Department plans to continue the preschool program next year.
Lisa Hough signs a vocabulary word to her preschoolers at Carter Lake.