District deaf education program shares expertise with visiting educators

Recently, deaf education educators from McAllen Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) visited Round Rock ISD’s deaf education program, Capital Area Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) at Live Oak Elementary School to gain insight and collect new ideas.

One of the program’s most successful strategies is classroom inclusion of deaf education students and hearing students. American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters attend classes and participate in activities with students. Capital Area RDSPD credits this instructional model as the reason their deaf education students have a high language fluency while hearing students gain ASL skills.

“I love it when people ask to come, it attests that our reputation is that if you want to see good stuff happening in deaf ed – go to RRISD,” said Julie Johnston, Capital Area RDSPD program coordinator. “I love to show our program to people who have never seen it. It helps me see it again for the first time, stop and appreciate all the wonderful things happening in our learning community.”

Educators from McAllen RDSPD cited full student inclusion and early intervention as key takeaways they’d like to replicate in McAllen.

“We don’t see as much language in our students as we see here. We saw students using good speaking and grammar format,” said Rebecca Villarreal, McAllen instructional supervisor. “They all had beautiful speech. It was very impressive to see what they were able to do; usually, you see kids in the early stages, and there is an imbalance where here, hearing and non-hearing students are about equal.”

Other Texas districts who have visited Capital Area RDSPD include, Bastrop ISD, Midland ISD, Northside ISD and Killeen ISD.

“We value establishing and maintaining connections with other deaf education organizations,” said Johnston. “When we make connections with people from across the state, we strengthen the network and all students benefit.”

Capital Area RDSPD serves newborns to three year olds and students Pre-K through grade 12. The program is operated out of Live Oak Elementary School, Deerpark Middle School, and McNeil High School.

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