Now, what can I say
When I get home today? (from Ohio?)
I swung â€˜round the corner
And dashed through the gate,
I ran up the steps
And I felt simply GREAT!
FOR I HAD A STORY THAT NO ONE COULD BEAT
AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT AT CINCINNATI, OHIO!
-And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street
I was finishing up my internship at Metro Deaf School (MDS) at St. Paul, Minnesota when the staff discovered Miss Deaf America in their midst. They asked me to give a presentation to explain my experiences during the pageant.
I gave a presentation and read, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! by Dr. Seuss to the first group of younger students from 1st grade to 5th grade. After the story, I explained who I am and that I am a native of South Dakota. At the end, I asked them what they learned, and one girl piped up, â€œI learned not to read with my eyes shut!â€
That, my friend, is obvious, but very important thing to know!
I also gave a presentation to middle school students about the NAD and where would we be without NAD. (We wouldnâ€™t have captioned programs on TV, advances in education for Deaf children, and many more!). At the end of each presentation, I performed my talent.
The former Miss Deaf America, Erin Casler wrote in her last blog entry, â€œâ€™Nobody ever said that being NAD Miss Deaf America wouldnâ€™t lead to a whirlwind existence!â€™â€ Nobody could sum up my experiences the past few weeks better than she did, as I moved from St. Paul back to Sioux Falls to continue my undergraduate education at Augustana College.
After I survived the first week of my third semester at college, I flew to Ohio on February 9-10th for two appearances at St. Ritaâ€™s School for the Deaf in Cincinnati and in the evening at Cincinnati Stateâ€™s Interpreter Training Program (ITP) 3rd Annual Silent Auction.
I left early in the morning and arrived at 10:30am. Dianne Sontag and Michael Schilling met me at the airport.
I was warmly welcomed by the staff and students at St Ritaâ€™s School for the Deaf, even the TV crew welcomed me.
I was asked three questions by their local TV media relating to the school!
They asked me why St. Ritaâ€™s School for the Deaf has a good education for the deaf and hard of hearing students. Earlier, when I received the word that I would be presenting at there, I Googled and researched on the school itself. I learned that the schoolâ€™s philosophy is Comprehensive Communication, which means the school will make specific accommodations to fit each studentâ€™s needs. They will provide a wide range of accommodations, for example: ASL interpreter, speech therapy, etc. to meet what the parents expect from their child. St. Ritaâ€™s is able to provide flexibility for the students to grow on their own standards.
Then, they asked me what advice I would be giving to the students. My advice was simple- to be able to expect the unexpected, and to believe in yourselves that you will be able to achieve anything.
What message you want to send to the community about the Deaf population? With a smile, I knew exactly what I wanted to tell, â€œI want the community to embrace the Deaf community because we are not different. We just have our own culture and our own way of communicating. Itâ€™s the attitude that makes the difference. Once I encountered a barrier, it was because of other personâ€™s attitude toward me.â€
Then, the principal asked me to sit in the front with my Cat in the Hat costume along with sash and crown, while the students signed me a song. Following the song, three students came up to the front and gave me gifts of a name tag with an ID from St. Ritaâ€™s, a nice warm fleece vest (which was perfect for below zero South Dakota weather!), t-shirt with signatures from the students all over the back along with thank you cards. I felt very welcome at the school!
I gave a presentation on the subject of overcoming barriers and how to succeed by reading The Little Engine That Could. Through the book, I reminded them that they can do it, just like a little blue engine that thought she could. Immediately after the story, I gave them my background of who I am before Miss Deaf America and pictures from my travels so far.
There was an autograph session after the presentation. It gave me a good opportunity to actually meet each student! The little preschoolers werenâ€™t able to attend the presentation because it was during their nap time when I presented. The coordinator at St. Rita who invited me to their school- took me upstairs to the classroom and there are about twelve wide eyed preschoolers staring and uncertain what to do with this visitor dressed as a gigantic version of Cat in the Hat.
The coordinator wrapped up the afternoon at St. Ritaâ€™s School for the Deaf with meeting some staff l and showing me a bit of the facilities.
Dianne took me to her home and allowed me little over an hour to relax and ate steak supper with her husband. It was very pleasant evening, I appreciated the opportunity of home style supper away from the school cafeteria!
Cincinnati Stateâ€™s Interpreter Training Program (ITP) 3rd Annual Silent Auction was my second event. The auction was a big success with humorous talented auctioneers selling the big â€œsteals.â€
I remember when I was younger, my Dad and Grandpa would take me to the cattle auctions to buy and sell their cattle. I would sit by them or in between them, trying to talk to either one of them, but they both silenced me by holding down my hands. Later, I realized that they didnâ€™t want me to talk during the auction as with slightest movement of my hands because it would cost them for the steer that was being auctioned at the moment!
This auction was a very good experience, because I had an opportunity to auction off few items. There was a raffle as well and what amused me to no end- they raffled off an oversized stuffed Cat in the Hat toy along with Oh, The Places Youâ€™ll Go! book with my autograph on both! During a break in the auctioning, there was a booth selling a picture with me for the ITP program!
At the end of auction, the interpreters gave me a present and thanked me for attending. The gift was Dr. Seussâ€™ biography by Judith and Neil Morgan!
After the Silent Auction, I learned from the coordinators that this year was the best turnout with twice as much in attendance as the previous year! The money will fund the remodeling of their Language Lab with updated technology for interpreterâ€™s training.
When I arrived back to my dorms at Saturday, February 10th at noon, I just felt simply GREAT!
Thank you for letting me to come to Cincinnati to visit St. Ritaâ€™s School for the Deaf and Cincinnati State! I enjoyed my visit there immensely! Thank you for the opportunity. This experience was such a whirlwind one for me, that I forgot to take a picture of my friend, Cat in the Hat, but he was still dazed, pazed and hazed from the experience! ïŠ Thank you!