Currently, there are only 10 certified athletic trainers with hearing loss in the entire country. Clarke alum, Grady Congleton, is looking forward to becoming the 11th.

A senior at the University of Vermont in Burlington, he is pursuing a degree in Athletic Training, which focuses on the prevention, recognition, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries. He is already trained to handle emergency situations such concussions, cardiac arrest and spinal injuries.

For such a young man, Congleton has an enormous amount of experience already under his belt. When not in class, Congleton photographs many UVM sporting events, and works with Burlington High School athletics. Previously, he worked with UVM men’s lacrosse, St. Michael’s basketball and lacrosse teams, and spent a semester observing the Burlington Fire Department Rescue Squad. After graduation, he’d like to secure a job at a high school and seek a master’s degree. His dream job: to work with an NHL hockey team.

Congleton is one of Clarke’s most committed alumni. He spends many, many hours volunteering as the editor of the Clarke School Alumni Council (CSAC) newsletter. Several times a year, he pulls together stories and photos about Clarke from around the world, connecting over 800 alumni. From 2008 to 2010, he worked as a counselor for Clarke’s Summer Adventure Program (a two-week program in Northampton for children ages 9–14) and this past summer he participated as a volunteer.

After being diagnosed at 16 months old with moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, it was discovered that Grady had a progressive bilateral hearing loss. Today, Congleton is profoundly deaf in both ears. In 2000, he had surgery for a cochlear implant in his left ear at the Children’s Hospital of Boston, and continues to travel there for his mappings.

Congleton’s history with Clarke stretches way back to age three, when he entered the Northampton preschool program. Two years later, when his family moved to Eastern Massachusetts, he became a residential student and remained in that program until eighth grade. Some of his fondest Clarke memories are gym classes and after-school recreation with teachers Dennis Moulton and Diane Dostal. “Those two taught me the importance of having fun no matter if it is competitive or not. They also taught me how powerful athletics and recreation can be in managing one’s stress and mood in life.” To this day, he draws on those experiences, and is always eager to serve as a physical activity advocate for children as well as adults.

“My time at Clarke was lively, positive and enriching and they did a tremendous job in preparing me for middle school at Eaglebrook (Deerfield, MA). To me, Clarke is an incredibly special place—no matter the size of the campus. The buildings and grounds are beautiful and memorable, but it is the amazing people who have worked, lived, and attended Clarke that make it so special.”

Congleton’s life is busy and full, but he does make sure he has down time. When relaxing, you’re likely to find him curled up with his Kindle, reading everything from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to his favorite book, Education of a Coach by the late David Halberstam.

When asked for advice for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, Congleton doesn’t miss a beat: “Never doubt yourself. There are a lot of things that society will say that you can’t do, regardless of what your hearing loss is or how early you received your education. The key is to press on and never give up on your dreams.”

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