Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Letter From Berry

Subject: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program in Greeley Date:

Below is the letter we're going to send to everyone on your long list. We are writing to ask for your support to maintain the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at the University School in Greeley. This is a fine program, one of the best public day schools for the deaf west of the Mississippi River. It has had a long history of educating the hearing impaired children and young people residing in Weld County who frequently move to Greeley to attend the school. This program allows children to live at home and be educated in classes starting in preschool. These students are mainstreamed into the University School where the hearing students learn sign language and deaf students are an integral part of the student body, participating in the arts and athletics District 6 in Greeley plans to move the classes out of the University School and spread them throughout the various campuses in Greeley and will probably make them a part of the special education curriculum. Deaf Education requires different teacher education and student education from special ed. Deaf students are accepted in community colleges, 4 year universities and post graduate professional schools. If they do not have the appropriate education to properly prepare them for schools of higher education, their future education will be limited. We all know the importance of education and to hamper this groups' education would be unfortunate for their future careers and ability to work in good paying jobs. One part of childhood and education is establishing a peer group and the deaf and hard of hearing need this even more so due to their limited ability to communicate. The younger preschool students and elementary students need association with the older students to act as peers and encourage them to stay in school and do well. Scattering them across 3 or 4 campuses will eliminate this association and mentoring. Changing this system which has been so very affective in educating an already disadvantaged population and proven so helpful to our daughter, her classmates and other deaf alumni of this school makes no sense and would be extremely harmful to the development of these young deaf individuals' lives. We moved to Colorado 28 years ago from out of state in order for our daughter to attend University High then a part of the University of Northern Colorado. We still contribute to the school to provide a room suitable for hearing impaired students. By the way, they require specific rooms for their classes which are already in the University School and would have to be built in other classrooms in the District 6 schools, just another part of the unnecessary capital expense this change would require. Any influence you might have with School District 6 in Greeley or with the Colorado State Board of Education in acting to correct this ill conceived change would be very much appreciated. We would be happy to discuss this problem or answer questions if you would want to contact us.

Maribeth Berry
Jack L. Berry, M.D.

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