The proof of the success of the Sunnyside School District's new deaf education program is summed up in an anecdote shared with Sunnyside Noon Rotary Clubs members Monday.
Two little boys in Kathleen Hisley's classroom were seen walking down the hall whispering to each other in animated conservation.
"The one boy has a cochlea transplant and the other child is profoundly deaf," she explained. "They talk together all the time and the sounds they make are unintelligible to hearing persons.
"We've had to work with them to help them understand that walking in the halls between classes requires they be quiet," Hisley said.
"They continue to talk all the time," Hisley said. "But now they whisper to each other, even though neither can really hear what the other is saying," she said.
"My point is that children are children. Where once my students felt isolated, even hoping not to be noticed, they are now engaged in real conversation and social interaction," Hisley said.
"And, they are amazing," she smiled.
Hisley was hired by the Sunnyside School District this past fall to head its program for educating students who are deaf or hearing impaired.
Hisley, who holds a Master's of education from the University of Utah, uses a combination of American Sign Language and Exact English to give her students the tools to communicate with each other and their hearing peers, while gaining a well-rounded education.
"Our ultimate goal is to return the children into regular classrooms with extra support as is needed," Hisley said.
Hisley works with kindergarten and first through fourth grade students at Washington Elementary School. She is now working with about eight of the district's youngest non-hearing students.
"We work on meeting the individual needs of the child," Hisley said.
"I look at my classroom as a preparation place for the youngsters," she said.
"Our aim is to aid the student in learning to live and function in a hearing world," she said.
"We teach them to be their own advocate," she added.