New Diagnosis? Clarke Can Help!
 

February 2012 Update

CLARKE NORTHAMPTON UPDATE

February 2012

The possibilities for children who are deaf or hard of hearing have never been more promising.  With early diagnosis, advanced hearing technologies, and Clarke’s specialized listening and spoken language programs, therapies, and support services, even profoundly deaf children can acquire hearing, speech, and learning skills that enable them to thrive in their families, mainstream schools, and throughout their lives.

In this new era of deaf education, children no longer have to travel to a Clarke location in order to receive services. More and more, Clarke staff are reaching children in their homes, their communities, their neighborhood schools--and even over the Internet.

Here are some recent Clarke Northampton updates:

  • New Early Intervention Initiative. Thanks to a major grant Clarke recently received from the Grossman Family Foundation, families of babies and young children who are deaf or hard of hearing will soon receive speech and language therapy, guidance, and support in the comfort and convenience of their homes via the Internet in real time.  Modeled on the highly successful practice of telemedicine, Clarke’s new teleservices initiative is the largest in the nation and will greatly expand the number of families we can serve, especially those living in rural areas.  In addition, the project includes a research and evaluation component that will result in a landmark study on early intervention services for children from birth to age three. This initiative will expand services to people who would otherwise not have access to them, a core part of Clarke’s mission.
  • Expansion of Mainstream Services. With rising numbers of children with hearing loss attending their neighborhood schools, our Mainstream Services Program is growing by leaps and bounds. This program sends Clarke teachers of the deaf to work directly in the classroom with students who are deaf and hard of hearing in mainstream schools and helps educate school district staff about hearing loss to ensure that students with hearing loss have the resources they need to succeed.
  • New K-8 Program Model. Next fall, our elementary and middle school program will be located within a local public school. This highly innovative “school within a school” model provides a unique combination of special education programming and opportunities for Clarke students to develop a broader circle of friends.
  • Residential Component of the K-8 Program. Reducing the size of our Northampton property and relocating our day school within a public school are testaments to the progress that is being made for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. But, with progress comes change, and even positive change can sometimes be hard.

    Of all the students in Northampton’s kindergarten through 8th grade program, only eight are in the residential program and three of them will graduate this June. For the past several years, Clarke has had the only residential program of its kind in the country.  When other residential programs closed, our Board of Trustees kept Clarke’s open because they believed that it was still the best option for some children and it is a cherished part of our long history. However, it has been a serious financial challenge as enrollment continues to decline, largely because most parents and schools districts are no longer sending their children to residential programs.

    After years of working to keep the residential program open, the Board determined at their February meeting that it was no longer possible. With heavy hearts, they voted to discontinue the program at the end of this school year. Although Clarke will no longer offer a residential program, we will continue providing other programs throughout the year where children who are deaf and hard of hearing can gather, share experiences, and build lasting bonds of friendship.
  • Northampton Property. The process of selling much of our Northampton property continues to move forward, and we hope to finalize the sale over the summer. We are consolidating our programs and offices into two buildings on Round Hill Road, and are hard at work organizing 145 years of archives, historical objects, pictures, paintings, books, furniture, and memorabilia. We are grateful to the University of Massachusetts Special Collections Department for their help with this major undertaking.

Clarke’s mission remains constant; our work is far from done and we continue to grow and expand our programs at each of our locations. I hope that we can count on your support as we continue to evolve and adapt to the changing world in which we live.  Please visit our website to learn more: www.clarkeschools.org