Saturday, May 24, 2008

This is why!

A and B Honor Roll

Dance Recital 2008, Jenna is so tired only 2 more days to go!

A smile is worth a thousand words. Wonder what the words are???
Love you Jenna - Dance your heart out and remember only 3 dances next year. 5 dances is too much for me!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Big D, Little d

When my mom was begging for guidance, she was told
she is not d/Deaf enough
When I started wearing hearing aids and looking for my place in the world as a child
I was not d/Deaf enough
As my hearing dripped to nothing, and I wanted to go to college.
I was not d/Deaf enough
As I found my place as teacher even though I struggled to find a job because I was deaf.
I still was not d/Deaf enough
As my students, parents, and staff accepted me as a teacher. To the outside world.
I was not d/Deaf enough.
As I make the choice for cochlear implants and embraced my journey into this world.
I was not d/Deaf enough.
As I support the ASL/CI and oral deaf community and families rights to make a choice for their child.
I was not d/Deaf enough.
As I put my blog on DeafRead, it is censored because I wear cochlear implants.
I am still not d/Deaf enough.
As I wake up from my peaceful sleep, I ponder why am I not d/Deaf enough for some. Then it hits me..........
Big D, little d...we all begin with d/D....
I am me, I am d/Deaf.
I am d/Deaf enough for ME.
Don't let others pass judgement on you. Accept, embrace, and make a differences for future d/Deaf children. Practice diversity and inclusion.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

IEP - It is all about crossing t's and doting i's


There are so many educational jargon that is used in development of an IEP it leaves others speechless or signless. The process involved in development and assessment for an IEP is a process and the document is developed yearly. There are several documents involve in identification of special education services. I want to discuss the Individualized Education Program. It is a 5 page annual document that list the programs, goals, present level, and accommodations for the student. Here is a site that shows Kentucky's IEP: Here is a site that list ideas for deaf and hard of hearing IEP's:

An IEP has several parts and data used to create it. The process that special educators go through in creating its development, mostly focus on data to show progress and modifications. This site gives the break down of the parts of the IEP:

Each state uses programs for set up of IEPs. Even within a state, county schools might use different programs. My county uses SEAS( and many others within the state use a program called Easy IEP. Each assist in creating IEPs and maintaining records and data progress monitoring. It depends on what the school system has approved for instruction. All school districts follow federal guildlines in identification of students disabilities and types of services that can be used. Just because a parent feels the service is valid, the school can say the service is not available and provide an alternative program or say the service is not needed. I can not list programs because each school. district, county, state, or residental school is different. As in each IEP is unique. At the school ask, what type of accommodations do you usually have based on this disability. If you don't ask, then you will not know if a service is available. Also some services or accommodations are not available at every grade level or school. Just believe your friend has this accommodations does not mean it is needed for your child.

Since I work in Tennessee, that is what I have knowledge of. Tennessee has a 35 page parent's rights that is given at meetings. Here is the link: In order to find your state rights, just google (the state) department of education. Then find special education and most of the time it is on that page. I stress this at meetings for parents to read this document and highlight anything that is important. Also keep all paperwork in a folder or envelope and together. If you don't get a folder at the meeting, ask for one. I always try to put my IEPs in a folder for parents. That way if you have any question, go back the document and rights, and review it.

The IEP is a working document and not valid until it is signed by the parent. Each IEP is only good for 365 days. When parents come to the meetings, they should not be worried about changing the document. If you feel something is not to benefit your child, ask why and what else. Also if you feel the document is not workable, do not sign, schedule another meeting. Remember you are the parent and you should question the document as well as any education program set up for your child. Also ask yourself, is the accommodation realiable for the child's academic success? Is it valid for success in the classroom? Is the accommodations needed for the child to be the LRE or should the child go to a more restricted envirnment? Another suggestion, write any question out on paper, the meetings go quickly and you will forget most. Remember this is your child and his document.

What is an individualized education program?
An individualized education program (IEP) is a written plan for a child with a disability that is
developed and implemented according to federal and state regulations. This plan includes:
• a description of your child’s strengths and needs (present levels of performance);
• a statement of measurable annual goals and instructional objectives related to meeting
your child’s needs;
• a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and
services to be provided to your child, or on behalf of your child.
• a statement of how your child will be educated and participate with other children with
and without disabilities.
• a statement of how your child will be involved and progress in the extracurricular and
other non-academic activities in the general curriculum.
• the explanation of the extent, if any, to which your child will not participate with nondisabled
children in school activities;
• a statement of any individual modifications your child may need to participate in state
mandated assessments.
• if the IEP team determines that your child will not participate in a particular assessment,
the IEP must include a statement of why the assessment is not appropriate and how your
child will be assessed;
• the projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications described in the
IEP and the anticipated frequency, location and duration of those services and
• transition statements;
• a statement of how your child’s progress will be measured and how you will be regularly
NOTE: At least one year before your child turns eighteen, the school district is required to give
you a statement that your child’s legal rights will transfer to them at age 18. Your
child will then be allowed to make educational decisions for him/herself, unless you
have a court order from a judge declaring your child incompetent to act on his/her

In the next post I am going to break down each part of the IEP. I hope for those of you who have children with IEP you are aware of your rights. For parents who have meetings coming up, I hope this helps in the "what am I looking at?" situation. I believe every educator wants children to be successful in the classroom. We want children to have everything they need to gain knowledge, but in reality an IEP is just one tool, not the whole toolbox.

An IEP is not a magical document that "cures" anything. No window is going to open and all the knowledge your child needs, be placed out infront of them. It is a document that allows parents, teachers, and students to monitor progress and assist the student to be successful in the LRE(least restrictive enviroment). I real key to quality education is a "big secret!" I'm going to let you in on it - it takes caring teachers, determined parents, supported community, creative adminstrators, and finally the will of the child.

My Life In Six Words

I've been tagged by Abbie for a "My Life in Six Words" meme.

What is a meme? A meme is basically in two ways:1. Meme--pronounced 'mem', a memory2. Meme--rhymes with 'theme', a theme where I am tagged to answer questions about 'me' or myself...

Here's my 6 words:
Not the way I planned it!
Hot tea, warm hearts enjoy life.
I am going to say if you want to tag yourself, I would love to see it.
Oh, this comes from Smith Magazine:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Auditory Therapy

It is has been awhile since I wrote about my second awaken - MUSIC.

My wonderful Valentine's gift was an Itouch. I proceeded to load it with all types of music, from 60's, rock, country, and everything in between. I take it everywhere, I mean everywhere and listen in every spare minute. I guess 20 years of losing the joy of beats, harmonies, and singing has taken a toll on me.
I have also come up with my favorite excuses - I am practicing auditory therapy. So when I am blasting my itouch down the hallway at school, before students come, jamming to "Jesus and Gravity." It is therapy. In my small portable, as three other teachers are working and "The Rose" is beaming out, it is therapy. Of course I get a few, can you change the song, but other wise it is great music. At the YMCA, dance, Walmarts, Krogers, Gas Station, and of course the car.

I pick music I have auditory memory of, it helps to understand the songs. I am finally at the point that I am downloading some new music and open to any suggestions. I use music to keep my cochlear implants active. I use steps to actively teach myself new music and sounds.

* I pull up the lyrics online and listen to the song and read the lyrics.
* I practice singing the song with the lyrics, around 10 times a night until I comfortable with the song.
* I do not listen to the song for between 2-5 days.
* Then I listen to the song without visual cues(lyrics), I try to listen and recall the lyrics. Of course I sing along, very loud.
* If I feel comfortable with the song, I add it to my play list and listen to it in rotation.

I have fallen in love with a few songs. I mean head over heel love with some songs that I can't stop listening too.
"Jesus and Gravity" by Dolly Parton
Just listen it is awesome. The words are so beautiful.

"Where is the love" by Donny Hataway and Roberta Flack
Just soulful and I can't stop listening too.

"The Search is Over" by Survivor
Makes me think of love. It reminds me of what Alex and I have been through. LOVE IT
With lyrics like the search is over, love was right before my eyes - oh yes!

"Aquarius/Let the Sunshine in" by the 5Th Dimension
Makes me want to put flowers in my hair and get happy!

My favorite::::: "The Rose" by Bette Midler
Can you get any better than that.

Now I need some more songs, I want to listen to a few more current songs. I am lost with what is great. I need suggestions. Oh by the way, I guess my auditory therapy is out of the bag, I need a new excuse.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mom and the Gals

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I wish....I wish I was in Georgia to hug my mom. So I am sending my love though the computer. My list is endless of why mom is fantastic, so let me put it in the nutshell.
Thank you mom for..
never saying I can't
always saying try
looking at me with love
accepting me for me
letting me grow up with two fantastic sisters
allowing me to be stubborn and strong-willed
giving me self-esteem, confidence, and independent
most of all mom, thank you for being my mom.
I love you.

Thank you Dona and Heather for...
being great sisters too

Love you,

Thursday, May 8, 2008


I woke up last night having the strangest experience.......My husband was just laying there touching my cochlear implants. Not touching my face, telling me how nice I look sleeping. Not my hair and moving it out of my face. My implants!

Went back to sleep and about an hour later, I woke up again to him touching my cochlear implants. I said that is it!!! I sat up and scared him. " Alex, why are you touching my implants."

He said, I wanted to feel how they felt and ......
think of what they have given us
your self-esteem
that smile again
our family
most importantly, he said he just sat there and reflected on 20 years together. How we have overcome so much.
And the future together
So, I kissed him and hugged him then I said, Alex this implant is only successful because I wanted to hear Jenna's voice and enjoy a movie with you. It is a lot of work on me - then I was corrected us. So we went back to sleep, this time he hugged me.
That evening, I asked Alex. Is this the first time you have touched my cochlear implants at night? He shook his head, I do it every night because I'm thankful for them. Wow, who knew.
(Yes, this really happen, Also I asked for him to make sure I am really really asleep.)

Friday, May 2, 2008

What hood do you belong to?

My goodness how many hoods do I belong too? Wow, too many to count. I decided to reflect using my prior knowledge on what hood and why. Remember these are not dictionary definitions, just my thoughts. If you want to look up the definitions, here is a web site -*hood&ls=a

Teacherhood is a fellowship of educators who have a degrees in education. They may teach, be administration, psychologist, or aide.

I sat in an IEP meeting yesterday. Another teacher cut off the parents' questions and insulted the other members of the team. She did not take the parents concerns seriously. I spoke up and took the meeting from this teacher and back to the parents. I don't want to be part of this type of teachhood.

Our wonderful Title 1 reading teacher, Tracy, set up a carnival for the students for successful TCAP testing(state testing). When the original plans fell through, she set up a fantastic day for the children with guitar hero, pies in face, free books, tattoos, cotton candy, and more. She recruited teachers to assist and all of us were proud to help. I want to be part of that this hood.

CI Hood
A fellowship of children, adults, and family members who use cochlear implants.

A group of people who view cochlear implants as cure for deafness. This group thinks cochlear implants are the only option for anyone who is deaf. I don't want to be part of this type of hood.

Personal choices and experiences shared in a way that are respectful and intelligent. Watching with joy as each one has CI moments. The fact I can ask anyone a questions and get a positive answer back. Hell, yes I want to be part of this hood.

A fellowship of crazy moms and children who love to dance.

I watched a mom push her child to be the "top" dancer and argue that her child is not in the correct level. A group of moms wanting nothing to do with average dancers because they are not acceptable to be around their children. No, I refuse to be part of this hood.

Watching Ms. Cindy of the Dance Force tell my child she can do it and showing her. How Ms. Cindy allowed Jenna to go to the small group ice cream party even though Jenna is not in a small group. She said Jenna has improved so much she deserves to be a part of it. Then watching my child beam and tell me she loves dance because she gets to learn it from Ms. Cindy. The best part was watching the other parents welcome Jenna to the party because she belonged. Yup, that's my hood

Motherhood, Fatherhood, Parenthood
A group of women and men with a common bond to raise children

A few years ago, a dad walked into my classroom and took off his belt and whipped his child in front of the class. I was so upset that I left the room and cried. In the store yesterday, I watched a parent yell at her child for not keeping up. She made the child cry and was so embarrassed. Not, my hood, no way no how

A wonderful student visited this week, I had K in 2nd grade. Her mom beamed with joy as she told how this year was going. Then she turned to her child and said, K, I am so proud of you. I really want to be part of that hood.

A group of medical professionals not limited to nurses, doctors, audiologist, and insurance staff

I had to fight my insurance company a year to get them to pay for my cochlear implants. They also would not talk to me on relay service. They embarrassed me. Also, when I went to my doctor with my hair falling out, he just put me on Zoloft. The doctor refused to listen to me. He thought I was making up problems. That hood has to change. I will not be a part of it.

Let Them Hear Foundation( fought for my cochlear implants, as I gave up hope of ever being approved. They listened and provided a service without asking for anything in return. Not only did they get the approval for my implants, but they listened! really listened. There are not words to describe my appreciation to them not just for my implants, but for listening and accepting me. My neurologist listened and found the cause of my facial numbness and migraines. He listened! Now 5 years later, I am off all medicine and migraines are gone. My cochlear implant surgeon, Dr. Ladabie listened and answered any question I had. Some questions I asked 5 to 6 times. He e-mailed answers within hours. I love this hood. Sign me up for more medical hood like this.

A fellowship of person who have a hearing loss, they may use hearing aids, cochlear implant or nothing. This group understands the journey and respects others. I also include parents and other family members. They are also on the journey with their child. (MY PERSONAL DEFINITION)

Segregation, isolation, and judgement of person who use hearing aids, cochlear implants, limited ASL or other visual language(Cued, SEE, or others). Judgement of if the person is deaf enough. Use of "we" to show isolation and ridicule.

The most amazing group of people I have ever met. People who see Valerie first and accept me and my choices. They assist, they teach, they laugh, they suggest, they think, and most of all listen. My hood is joined by a common characteristic - deafness. It does not define me, it expands me.

There are so many hood we are members of - sisterhood, brotherhood, footballhood, bookhood and a ton more. As with all experiences in life, we must take the pros and the cons. I might not identify with a sample of that hood, but I can't give up on it because of a few who believe they control the definition and membership. Our life should be filled with harmony, love, friendship, and hoods, through good times and bad times. I love my hoods, I accept them pros and cons. I don't leave them when the times are rough. United we stand, divided we fall - let's not fall!