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November 21, 2011

Clarke PA Director Featured in Mainline Neighbors

November 21, 2011—(from Six books sit beneath a wooden paperweight made from an old ruler in Judith Sexton’s office at Clarke School for Hearing and Speech in Bryn Mawr. The faded curriculum guides represent Sexton’s connection to Clarke long before she became the director of Clarke Schools’ Pennsylvania campus six years ago. Printed on the covers of the books are the words, "Clarke School for the Deaf."

While working at Archbishop Ryan Academy for the Deaf in Philadelphia prior to coming to Clarke, the Havertown resident used the books as guides to instruct her students.

This, Sexton said, is the most interesting part of her story. No particular person or experience triggered her interest in working with deaf and hearing-impaired students as a therapist. She simply knew.

“I didn’t know anybody that was deaf,” Sexton said. “I didn’t meet somebody who was deaf. I just decided when I was in high school. How did I know? I don’t know.”

Sexton’s mother introduced her to a hearing therapist who went to Smith College, which affiliates with the Clarke Schools.

“From that very beginning in 1975, how I’ve ended up directing a Clarke School 33 years later is almost like a meant to be story,” Sexton said.

Alongside her staff, Sexton continues to make strides within the deaf and hard of hearing community. Last month, the school received at $9,700 grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities to fund 100 Clarke Care Kits to help parents care for their child’s hearing aid.

A two-year process, the kits came to be after Clarke’s Early Intervention Coordinator Jeana Novak and audiologist Naomi Wicentowski worked with Sexton and a grant-proposal writer to fulfill the needs of new Clarke parents.

“If we have families coming to us with newly-identified children or families who have been in other programs and come to us, one of the problematic areas we recognized was they don’t know how to care for the technology,” Sexton said.

Noting the expense of the kits, which include a battery tester, an ear mold blower, a dry aid kit, a stethoset, audio wipes and an earwax wipe, Sexton said not only are the kits crucial for the family to have, but coaching the family on how to use them is too.

“Our goal is not to help families, our goal is to coach families so they learn,” Sexton said.

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