Deaf Person of the Month
Pennsylvania School for the Deaf’s
PSD's new Superintendent is a Deaf Education veteran; he previously served at The Learning Center in Framingham, Massachusetts. He tells his own story:
Please tell us about your background.
I am currently the Associate Executive Director/Chief Operations Officer at The Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, Massachusetts since July 2010. I have 23 years of experience in deaf education at TLC and several other schools for the deaf. Prior to assuming my current role, I served as Director of Student Life at TLC from July 2007 to June 2010 and worked for Communication Service for the Deaf, in South Dakota and Texas, as the State Director. I was a former board member for Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD) from 2010 to 2016 and American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC) from 2011 to 2013. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services in August 1992 and Master of Science degree in Organizational Management and Leadership in May 2010 from the Springfield College (Massachusetts). I come from a large Deaf family in New England and a proud father of two hearing boys. I am also a proud father of 2 bonus children through the marriage.
I grew up in the western part of Massachusetts and attended the American School for the Deaf in Connecticut and graduated in 1983. All of my 5 siblings also graduated from ASD as well as my father and his brother and sister. My mother graduated from the Austine School for the Deaf in Vermont and her 2 brothers and sister also graduated there. I went to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, NY, right after I graduated from ASD, then transferred to the Gallaudet College (then University) where I stayed for 3 years before moving back home in MA and worked at ASD. After I graduated from the Springfield College with bachelors’ degree, I moved on and worked at the Maryland School for the Deaf, Delaware School for the Deaf, Texas School for the Deaf for the total of 16 years then decided to work in a human services field working for the Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) in Texas and South Dakota for the couple of years. I realized that I enjoyed working at the deaf school so decided to accept the job offer from the Learning Center for the Deaf and moved back East since 2007. Now I am excited to be the next Head of School for the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, starting July 1st.
What inspired you to choose a career in education?
I chose a career in education going back to my childhood experience growing up in the residential-setting institution. Growing up as a Deaf person, I believed that I could serve as a leader and a role model to students, staff and faculty at the deaf school and the communities where the school is located because I looked at myself as being a high energy, self-motivated, and achievement oriented leader. My participation as a board member or officer in national organizations, task forces and advisory committees has not only allowed me the opportunity to develop a vast professional network but has also provided me with a comprehensive view of the changing landscape of education. I also step forward for the higher administrative position because I believe in the deaf school and its mission and philosophy and the combination of education, extensive experience, and leadership skills does create me as one of good role models for our deaf children.
There are also beliefs I have lived by in my 23 years of working in schools for the deaf. I want to be sure that each student will be given the opportunity to maximize his/her language skills and then continue to grow and thrive in an academic setting designed to meet individual needs. In my recent position at The Learning Center for the Deaf, I have always believed strongly in their mission and core values, “Our mission is to ensure that deaf and hard-of- hearing students achieve their full potential in an educational environment where language and communication are keys to building competence, character and community.”
Also in my current position at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, their statement, 1) “The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf educates students to succeed by recognizing and developing individual strengths, building confidence, collaborating with families and communities in a nurturing, dynamic, and language-rich environment steeped in cultural awareness of Deaf, Hearing, and worldwide diversity.” 2) “Language is the key to opening the world of learning to every child…All students are capable of setting goals, growing and achieving when guided, nurtured and challenged...Every individual has strengths and the ability to contribute to improve their community and the world…”, and 3) “Ultimately, we believe in our students and they believe in us!”. In addition, The Learning Center core values emphasize respecting the individual needs of each child and partnering with families to meet those needs, which I believed that PSD and other deaf schools are also doing the same. With that in mind, I believe that as a leader this must be the foundation that supports all decisions. Each family comes to us with an expectation that their child will be given the highest quality services designed to meet his/her unique needs, and we must honor that. I also believe that to serve deaf and hard of hearing children, including those with cochlear implants, a school for the deaf in the 21 st century must be prepared to meet a wide range of communication, academic and social emotional needs, and we must do it, to quote a line from a Learning Center core value, in a “….warm, and welcoming environment for our students”.
Deaf and hard of hearing students who graduate from schools for the deaf often express that they continue to feel a “sense of belonging” with their schools after they leave. It was because they felt more comfortable in their communication with teachers, residential and support staff. Developing a sense of community and caring for others is key to achieving a healthy and fulfilling adult life, whatever path one chooses.
In closing, I am deeply committed to ensuring that schools for the deaf put children first. It is critical to provide a range of programs and services, to raise awareness of the barriers and benefits, to develop strategies for taking action, and to find the resources necessary to achieve our goals.
We'd like to know more about your work at TLC.
The Associate Executive Director is responsible for the oversight of all educational programs and support services, and assists the Executive Director in the management and development of the organization. Organizational Management. I oversaw the delivery of services and ensured they are provided in a manner compatible with the mission and vision of The Learning Center. I also assisted the Executive Director in monitoring the budget and ensured responsible and effective use of revenues. I ensured that all programs meet the regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Education, Department of Social Services, and Department of Early Education and Care, as well as agencies from other states served by The Learning Center. I also ensured the development and implementation of a comprehensive quality control plan.
Another area of responsibility is the Supervision and Leadership. I provided supervision and support to members of The Learning Center senior leadership team responsible for overseeing the delivery of services to children and families. I also approved the hiring of all employees for direct service positions and ensured all staff providing services to children are well supervised and supported. I worked with the program and department leaders to maintain collaborative interdisciplinary relationships.
One more area of responsibility is the Organizational Development. I developed plans to modify services and expand programs to utilize recognized expertise and meet changing needs. I also worked with the Executive Director to ensure effective development and implementation of the strategic plan. I also represented the school on local, state and national levels at meetings and events relevant to the work of The Learning Center and assisted the Executive Director in the development of strategies to train and support emerging leaders.
I also functioned as the Chief Operations Officer. I oversaw all 4 day-to- day operations, Information Technology, Maintenance including Transportation, Custodial, and Food Services.
What do you most enjoy doing in "leisure time"?
I mostly enjoyed riding my Harley Davidson trike with my wife when the weather permits. I also enjoyed traveling and spending times with my family especially the children and their activities. Now I look forward to meeting new people in my new job and the community, too.