Category Archives: Around the School

The Star Student Cafe

The Star Student Cafe is an annual event in May giving CCCBSD students of all grades the chance to showcase their talents and hardwork. Teachers displayed a variety of work from students, creatively representing the theme in ways unique to each classroom.

This year, the theme of the Star Student Cafe was Helping Hand in Hand, chosen to compliment the school-wide theme of the third quarter, Helping in Our Community. Parents had a great time exploring the variety of class presentations, and students were encouraged to share their work with their families. Food was available for sale in the Student Activities Center, including pizza, popcorn, desserts, and drinks. Face painting was available for free, and various gift baskets were raffled off.

In Cate Lortie’s class, part of their regular schedule includes one student being chosen each week as an outing leader who chooses where they will visit. At SSC, she showed the presentations students gave to their classmates about the various outings, what they did, and what roles their peers played. Cate enthused, “My hope is that my students feel pride in sharing what they’ve worked on with their families and the rest of the school community.”

In Christina Arroyo’s preschool class, Helping Hand in Hand was represented through the study of various plants. Students learned all about growing seeds and even planted their own, documenting their progress along the way. Christina was thrilled to display her students hard work at the SSC, and explains, “It is my favorite event of the school year, and I love how much it brings our school community together as one unit.”

A third class, Ashleigh O’Brien’s, adapted the theme to “When in doubt, help out.” Her students participated in picking up trash, making and donating bread, recycling cans and bottles, and more. Students loved helping out their community, and said “Recycling is cool!” Ashleigh is proud of the work her students completed this year, and was excited to help them share that work with their parents during the SSC.

This year was another enjoyable and successful Star Student Cafe, and we look forward to 2020.

Accommodating Students in APE Class

At CCCBSD, many students have mobility challenges and require the assistance of wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility devices. When students step into the gym, Caitlyn Clair, APE (Adaptive Physical Education) teacher, makes sure that everyone is included and participating however they can. If a student uses a power wheelchair and is learning how to operate it themselves, she may have them focus on practicing their driving. For students who have wheelchairs they cannot maneuver on their own, she may tell the individual pushing them how to do so in a way that reflects a greater activity. For example, when playing kickball, one of the most exciting parts for students is the feeling of running fast from base to base. While keeping safety as a top priority, Caitlyn will encourage the person pushing the wheelchair to move quickly so the student can feel the wind on their face and have fun. Students who have walkers or gait trainers often focus on strengthening their skills with those devices, and she creates games where they can practice without feeling like they are doing work One way she accomplished this was with a scavenger hunt for the students around the school. In order to find all of the hidden items, students had to practice their walking or maneuvering, but did not feel like they were really working out because the activity was fun.

Caitlyn believes that APE is all about finding what works for each student, and encouraging them to push themselves. For some students, their task might be moving a ball off of their lap. For other students, it may be a game of catch. Each unit is tailored to the individual classes. For younger classes, it is not possible or practical to teach them every rule of every sport. Instead, Caitlyn evaluates the abilities of each class, and introduces rules that most benefit that class. Often, the improvements that can be seen in students are not just in terms of athletic skills, but also their independence. Where at the beginning of the year they may have been looking to Caitlyn for guidance, by the end they know what they are expected to do and what role they play in the sport and they go for it. The whole goal of APE is to build students’ independence in motor skills, while having fun!

A Brief History The Children’s Center for Communication/Beverly School for the Deaf: Changing the Name

The Children’s Center for Communication/Beverly School for the Deaf (CCCBSD) was founded in 1876 as the New England Industrial School for Deaf Mutes.  Not uncommon for the time period, the curriculum revolved around trades such as farming, carpentry, chair-caning, and homemaking in a residential setting. Students grew most of the school’s food, reducing costs, and did many repairs themselves. The recommended method of education for deaf children at this time was the oral method along with speech and lip reading.

In 1922, the school’s name was changed to Beverly School for the Deaf to reflect a decreased focus from an industrial/trade school to a more academic setting, as well as the recognition that students could develop oral language skills. The school also became one of the first organizations in the state to register as a non-profit when that designation was created by the government that same year.

In the 1970s, the school expanded its mission from serving deaf, hard of hearing and communication-challenged children to also accepting hearing and deaf children with learning and developmental disabilities.

In 2004, the school began an expansion of its services to students with Autism, Developmental delays and other disabilities under the umbrella of communication challenges. In 2007, after nearly 15 years, the use of Signed Exact English (SEEII) was switched to American Sign Language (ASL) in supporting the visual communication needs of students. In 2008, the organization changed its name to The Children’s Center for Communication/Beverly School for the Deaf (CCCBSD) to include students with a wide variety of special needs and communication challenges.

The school continues to grow and expand its services. CCCBSD offers consulting, ASL classes for babies through adults, as well as the Parent-Infant/Toddler program. To learn more about the history of the school, or arrange a tour, contact us at info@cccbsd.org.

Accessibility Services in CCCBSD’s Music Program

 

CCCBSD is one of the few deaf/hard of hearing schools that offers music classes, and the music classroom itself is equipped with numerous unique and advanced accessibility services to give all students a chance to fully enjoy music. One of the challenges that Kelly Surette, CCCBSD’s music teacher, has continuously faced in her work is finding more ways to make music accessible and enjoyable for students who cannot hear. She has come up with solutions through her own creativity, and greatly utilized different available technologies.

When you first walk into the music room, one of the most noticeable things is the wooden dance floor that covers around half of the space. This dance floor is unique because it is set up to produce vibrations in line with the bass of songs, thereby allowing deaf students to feel the music whenever they are standing on it. At the front of the dance floor, a large TV hangs on the wall. Kelly often utilizes it to play ASL videos for the students, particularly YouTube videos of people signing to popular songs. On either side of the TV, there are two tall light boxes that flash with the music. For deeper sounds, the colors fall in the red and orange range. For higher sounds, the colors might be more green and yellow, with the location of the colors on the light reflecting the pitch as well: lower sounds at the bottom and higher sounds at the top.

After discovering that wood is an excellent material for transmitting vibrations, Kelly began making use of it in her classroom. She has placed a long board underneath the lid of the piano for students to touch and feel as she plays. For students who sit in wheelchairs, Kelly has discovered that she can use pieces of wood to branch the distance between a students lap and a speaker. As the speaker vibrates, the student can feel the vibrations from their end of the piece of wood. At one point, Kelly had access to some chairs that vibrate in the same manner that the cochlea in the ear processes sound. She also has a few pillows that do something similar. These tools allow students to feel and hear music in their own unique way.

Through these accessibility technologies, Kelly’s students have been able to truly experience and enjoy music in a way that they might otherwise not be able to. She believes that music is as essential to a child’s education as any other class or subject. In the future, she hopes to utilize more technologies that would allow her students to feel higher frequencies, like her own voice. Some students, she says, will come up to her and place a hand on her throat to experience the feeling of her singing. One day she hopes to be able to do something like that on a bigger scale. No matter what, Kelly is working her hardest to give her students the best music education she possibly can. If there is a way for her to do something more efficiently or more effectively, she will work hard until she can find it.

 

CCCBSD’s Garden

About a year ago, Sam Snow-Cronin started as a paraprofessional at CCCBSD. This summer, after noticing an unused raised garden bed outside the school, he thought that students could benefit from learning to garden. After getting permission to begin the project, Sam was faced with the challenge of creating something that would be accessible for all students, and provide them with the valuable experience of taking care of something and watching it grow.

With the summer session in full swing, gardening has been a perfect activity for students to continue their learning in a non-classroom environment. So far, students have helped with weeding, watering, scheduling, and purchasing seeds and plants. Earlier this year, some students even had the opportunity to visit Kane’s Flower World in Danvers to learn about gardening and purchase plants for the garden.

Though some students have physical challenges, they are by no means exempt from the gardening experience. Recently, Sam Snow-Cronin was able to acquire a specialized watering can that operates with a button. For individuals with fine-motor difficulties, this watering can allows control of how much water is poured, and lets them focus more on aiming. The garden provides a different and highly interactive opportunity to practice their various motor skills. Most of all, students are able to see how their hard work pays off as the plants grow and flourish.

Though only one flower bed is currently available now, Sam hopes to add more in the future. Still, with the small space he has been able to grow cherry tomatoes, basil, lavender, rosemary, lamb’s ear, bush beans, and nasturtiums, an edible flower. These plants in particular are not only edible, but can provide a natural sensory experience for students. Plants like lamb’s ear are soft to the touch, while lavender, rosemary, and basil smell nice. In the future, Sam would like to have a separate section of the garden to be dedicated to sensory plants. He has also been in contact with the cafeteria staff to discuss the future possibility incorporating some of the garden’s produce into student’s meals.

The CCCBSD garden may still be new, but it has been very successful so far. Students are having fun learning new skills and watching their work blossom. Sam is grateful for all of the help and support he has received from teachers and faculty, and hopes to see the project continue to grow and evolve. He is very open to new ideas, and enjoys the collaborative aspects of the garden.