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American Annals of the Deaf

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Black Deaf Students: A Model for Educational Success

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The Role of the Schools

In addition to schools being an educational Institution for students, they would also become advocates and community resources for students and parents before their children are enrolled in school. Such a program would become a resource for parents of deaf arid hard of hearing students, regardless of whether or nor the child h enrolled in rise school. The program would provide resource materials, conferences, and workshops on factors that contribute to resilience in children from infancy through young adulthood. For example, parents of newborn children recently diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing would have access to information that would help them provide experiences their child that would foster resilience. The focal point or hub of the program must be the school because it alone possesses the expertise to assemble all of the other resources. An additional reason is the primary beneficiaries, the children, would be educated in the school in partnership with their parents and their community.

In order for the schools to serve as advocates for promoting resilience, cultural changes within the school, home, and community may be necessary. The importance of culture and its impact on educating African American deaf and hard of hearing students needs to be addressed in the programís initial organizational retreats. Schools are in the central position to take the lead in implementing policies, programs, and procedures that contribute to the studentsí resilience and thus their successful transition. A well-planned, comprehensive school program that focuses on organizing and coordinating environmental factors that promote protective factors is essential to facilitating the educational and transition process. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has mandated schools to facilitate transition.

To develop a program that has high potential to accomplish the established goals, there must be a clear agreement among the participants. For example, the program would require cooperation among the schools, the families, and numerous organizations throughout the community. Furthermore, to ensure that increased academic achievement and more successful school transition takes place for African American deaf and hard of hearing students, the school administrator must be able to promote the vital role of resilience in this process and must also view the role of the school as critical in fostering resilience through a collaborative partnership among parents, the school, and community stakeholders. Successful academic transition should be an expressed outcome mentioned in the mission statementís goals. Parents, teachers, staff members, and stakeholders should participate in the process of developing and finalizing the mission statement, which should include goals that promote and foster student resilience.

School policies and programs will promote collaboration among the staff members within the schools to foster protective factors, and the policies, programs, and strategies will focus on collaborative partnerships with parents, community organizations, and key stakeholders to facilitate the resilience process. Programs should address protective factors from the childís infancy through high school graduation and beyond. The modelís plan will have a strong commitment to acknowledging and embracing diversity including different ethnic cultures and Deaf culture, and it will provide training in understanding various cultures, including Deaf culture and sign language.

The school should provide parents with information about what contributes to resilience, how to promote resilience in the home, how the school and parents can work together to promote resilience, how community organizations can be involved in this process, and how resilience facilitates successful transition. These programs, with any necessary changes, will continue as long as their child is in school.

The director will ensure that the development of all school programs will take into account the need to promote resilience and transition by providing a high-quality and culturally relevant curriculum. In addition, the program will include the following:

  1. Instructional practices that are inclusive and challenging to all students
  2. A supportive and positive reinforcing school climate
  3. Extracurricular activities that build self-esteem, leadership, and teamwork
  4. Programs that promote relationships with positive adult role models
  5. Procedures for including students in age-appropriate decision-making
  6. Recognition of the accomplishments of students

When a studentís academic placement is in question, a team approach would be required in keeping with school policy in order to avoid inappropriate class placement. The parent and student would participate in the process. A school assessment team consisting of a teacher representative, a school mental health staff member, dormitory staff member, and a lead teacher would review appropriate school data to determine school placement. These data would include student test scores, progress reports, student portfolios, written feedback from all of the studentís teachers with samples of the studentís work, and a form developed to assess studentsí resilience. This approach could eliminate heavy reliance on test results and one personís recommendation for class placement.

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