Muscatine Community School District (MCSD) has a thriving deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) program. With sixteen students in its center-based program at Jefferson Elementary School and five students dispersed between other buildings, MCSD, in conjunction with the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency (MBAEA) has developed a wide variety of services and events to meet the needs of these students.
Each year, the MBAEA hosts a Deaf Day in December where students in DHH programs across the region come together to participate in educational and social activities. For the past three years, students from MCSD’s DHH program have attended this event. To help make Deaf Day possible, the MBAEA hosts a craft and vendor fair at their Bettendorf office to raise money. This year, Sofia, a MCSD student who participates in the DHH program, along with her teacher, Kelly Story, had the opportunity to go on Paula Sands Live and share information about this important event.
On October 24th, Sofia and Story went on television to give information about Deaf Day and Deaf Camp, two of the events the craft and vendor fair helps fund. They also shared their experiences at these events last year and why they matter so much to students in DHH programs. After the show, Sofia felt very good about the experience. “I was so proud of myself,” she explained. Her classmate, Lenito, who saw her on TV, felt a little jealous of how well she did and hopes he can promote the event in future years.
This year, the craft and vendor fair raised nearly $3,000, far more than it did when it debuted last year. “It far exceeded what we got last year, and it will benefit programing throughout the region,” Story said.
Sofia and Story also appreciate that their on-air appearance will help two events that matter to local students in the DHH program a lot. During a recent American Sign Language class, many of Story’s students shared positive memories of last year’s Deaf Day. “It was a lot of fun,” remembers one student, Marissa. “There were a lot of different activities. Santa Claus was there, and we made sugar cookies.” Sofia and her classmate Hannah also liked getting to win raffle prizes and meeting friends from different school districts.
As an attendee of Deaf Camp last year, Sofia also knows just how much fun students in DHH programs have at this weeklong event. “We did all these different stories and had a fake campfire,” she recalled. “We had a big tent and we did lessons in it. We turned out the light and used flashlights to make animal shadow puppets. We made s’mores outside on the real stove and made popcorn too.”
Sofia and Story’s recent publicity has brought positive attention both to the craft and vendor fair and to MCSD’s DHH program. With remarkable teachers and students, this program will continue to flourish and do amazing things in the community.