First Time Ever: Deaf Teachers at Pasco School
The Pasco School District has been working on expanding it's Deaf Education Program and for the first time ever, deaf students are being taught by deaf teachers.
Amber Havers and Anthony Bishop are the first two deaf teachers to teach at Rowena Chess Elementary School.
Prior to this, their students have only had hearing teachers.
Havers said she finds it important she's here now to connect with the kids on a shared level.
"A hearing teacher may not totally understand the emotions, how the kids feel," said Havers. "I understand their frustrations and I know how to communicate with them. I know how sometimes people look down on deaf people so I think I can connect with them a lot better."
One student said the learning process is much easier with the new teachers.
"We'd have to have an interpreter and if the interpreter would leave, I'd have to wait because the teacher doesn't understand so I'd have to write on a piece of paper but now the deaf teacher can understand me," said 6th grader Darya Hansen.
Havers said although it's easy to communicate with students, there are challenges when it comes to talking to parents.
"I cant just communicate with the hearing people directly so we have to use a video phone," said Havers.
The video phone is set up in the classroom for parent-teacher meetings, but Havers said sometimes it's hard to get an interpreter.
Another challenge is, because the deaf teachers are new, everything is not catered to them just yet, like flashing lights for the bell, so they still rely quite a bit on the interpreters.
Bishop has specific hopes for the futures of these students.
"To become independent adults, to be able to self advocate for themselves, get a job, have a good life, pay their taxes and get a paycheck," said Bishop.
There are 26 deaf students preschool through 12th grade in the Pasco School District and both teachers move around through schools to teach all grades.