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Katie's Story

Our daughter Katie is now in her 5th school year at WSD. She started there when she was going into 5th grade, but If she would have had her way she would have started much sooner. Katie began asking us to attend the Wisconsin School for the Deaf when she was in 3rd grade after attending a summer sports camp there. We live in a small rural town that does not offer a deaf program so she was receiving support through CESA 5. Although at the time we were not happy with the services she was receiving we just didn’t see any way we could send her to WSD as we live about 100 miles away. That was until we attended the Statewide Family Conference and listened to the presentation about WSD. The room had a few other couples such as ourselves but two rows in front of us was a group of ladies and at the end of the presentation the speaker asked if anyone had any questions. My husband and I asked how Katie would fit in because Katie is hard of hearing (she now identifies as Deaf) and we knew she had a hard time fitting in at a hearing school, would she fit in at a deaf school? The row of ladies sitting in front of us turned around and answered our question. As it turns out the ladies were all moms of current or former WSD students. There was one mom whose daughter had a similar situation and she confirmed that YES Katie would be a perfect fit for WSD. We ended up spending quite a bit of time talking to these moms and absorbing all the information they gave us. The presentation itself was very informative and gave us the information we were seeking about logistics but the information from these moms was priceless. We decided to schedule a tour in April of that year, and Katie started school at WSD the following September. She had very limited knowledge of ASL, which was a huge concern for us, but she didn’t let that stop her and before we knew it she was fluent and thriving and loving school again.

Katie was active and involved in sports and other activities when she was attending our local school, but now that she is at WSD she participates in just about anything she is eligible for. She is on the volleyball and basketball teams. She has participated all 3 years of middle school in the Battle of the Books reading competition and all 3 years her team and coaches were able to attend the national competition at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. She has also been in the Spring Drama productions as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz", Ichabod Crane in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", and last year she played Sleeping Beauty. One of her favorite clubs is Skynet Junior. This is an astronomy program that allows the students to use telescopes and equipment at Yerkes Observatory as well as be instrumental in coming up with video instruction for other deaf and hard of hearing children interested in astronomy. This year she has also joined the Sign Song Dance team and the Academic Bowl team. These are only a few of the activities/clubs available at WSD. They are very good at keeping the kids involved and providing opportunities that would not be offered at mainstream schools for deaf and hard of hearing children.

Academically Katie has always done well. She has been on the honor roll since she started school at WSD and is advanced in her math and reading skills. When we made the decision to send her to WSD I was told by her deaf/hard of hearing teacher from CESA that we were making a mistake. She told me that Katie wouldn’t do as well academically at WSD because the reading levels were much lower than other schools and the curriculum would be too easy for her. I was shocked that someone in the education field didn’t seem to understand that WSD must follow the same curriculum as every other school in the state, and that there is a lot of false information about WSD. What we have found is that the teachers are fantastic. Because it’s a smaller school the student to teacher ratio is excellent. The students get specific instruction based on their educational needs. If they are advanced they offer solutions for that. If they need more help, they offer solutions for that as well. We feel Katie is getting a better education at WSD because not only is she getting her core curriculum but she is also getting Deaf education and the opportunity to live, participate, interact, and be a part of the Deaf community at WSD and in Delavan. This is something we could have never given her where we live.

Sending Katie to WSD was not an easy decision for us in the beginning. It was a huge adjustment, we were worried about how would we pay for this, how would we get her to school and not to mention just not having her home with us and feeling like we were letting someone else raise our child. To our great surprise the cost is very minimal and the transportation is provided by WSD with our local school district picking up the tab. We still struggled with not wanting her to be away from home, but we ultimately decided that we needed to do what was best for Katie and for her future. I am convinced that this is the best solution for Katie. We are so proud of her accomplishments thus far, and we are very happy and thankful that we decided to have Katie attend the Wisconsin School for the Deaf.