Deaf Person of the Month
Superintendent, Oklahoma School for the Deaf
KaAnn Varner is marking her fourth year as superintendent of the Oklahoma School for the Deaf. OSD is not one of the best-publicized schools for the deaf, but Varner says that Oklahoma "does an excellent job in educating deaf students." She is proud of that fact that OSD has a 100% graduation rate for itts seniors. "The biggest challenge for OSD and our state is recruitment of qualified staff. Oklahoma state teacher and state employee pay lags behind that of other states."
She notes that in the past, many parents were unaware of OSD. "This was changed with the passage of Senate Bill 1119 in 2012. As a result of this very important bill, all schools who have a deaf or hard-of-hearing student on an IEP are required to inform parents about OSD.There is a box on the IEP that must be checked to indicate that OSD was mentioned as a viable option for any student with a hearing loss." Fortunately, the Oklahoma legislature has been supportive of OSD, which also enjoys a good relationship with the Oklahoma Association of the Deaf. The students, she says, benefit from high expectations, a good Occupational Opprtunities for the Deaf program that enables them to gain work experience while in school, and the school's sports program.
"It has been heartwarming to see how parents and staff in Oklahoma really do form a cohesive partnership to enable deaf students to reach their full potential."