Deaf Education Alumni Share Their Positive Experiences
Sarah Gelpern received her undergraduate degree in May 2017 and was already hired at the Cleary School for the Deaf in Long Island, New York. Her hiring is remarkable because New York only recognizes Deaf Education master’s degrees.
Gelpern’s program at the Cleary School is created for children with hearing loss. They do not use sign language in the classroom. Instead, they focus on building auditory and communication skills through small teacher-to-student ratios and the use of hearing role models.
Her class has seven students, five of which are deaf/hard of hearing (DHH). The other two students, the role models, are typical hearing children, who help model language to the other students.
Gelpern, a native of Long Island, chose to return to New York post-graduation in order to be closer to home. From an early internship, she had a connection with Cleary School, but Kent State’s Deaf Education program helped her land the job.
“I think the fact that the Deaf Education program requires so much time in real classrooms with real DHH students was a factor in me getting my job,” Gelpern said.
She referenced specific courses that built her skills. Literacy Assessment, taught by Dr. Pamela Luft, gave Gelpern that resources that she uses regularly in her classroom.
Dr. Karen Kritzer’s Language Development course taught Gelpern about language acquisition in not only DHH students, but in typically developing children as well. Other courses showed Gelpern how to command her classroom, create lesson plans, collaborate with colleagues and more.
“Kent State’s Deaf Education program has a rigorous curriculum that may be intimidating at first,” Gelpern said. “However, the professors, their networks, real-experience courses and professional collaboration and support enabled me to obtain an extraordinary education, a dual degree and a job within two months of graduating.”
Alongside Gelpern, Duztin Hord, who received his graduate degree in May 2017, was quickly hired into his current position. Despite being a new employee, Hord has already led workshops and impressed leaders in his field.
Hord is a middle school science and social studies teacher at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf. While pursuing his graduate degree at Kent State, Hord also was a full-time teacher.
“Everything that is taught in the Deaf Education program happens in real life,” Hord said.
Drs. Kritzer and Luft offered Hord advice for his future career and helped him work through obstacles in his teaching job.
“They provided genuine care for their students and the profession,” Hord said. “They gave me the type of attention that I want to be able to give my students.”
Small class sizes allow Deaf Education professors to provide one-on-one training as students pursue their degree. Hord said it was one of the most unique parts of receiving a degree from Kent State.
Specifically, the students in the College of EHHS’ programs spend a lot of time learning to write individual education plans (IEPs). Hord explained that he teaches coworkers the proper way to write IEPs because his Kent State professors taught him so well.
Through all of his positive experiences in the Deaf Education program, Hord was able to develop the skills necessary to earn a job in his field. Before settling in Rhode Island, Hord sent applications to nearly 100 schools throughout the country. Within a few months, all but one school offered him a job.
“I feel so successful,” Hord said. “It’s funny that I am a brand new teacher and I am so prepared for my job.”
The College of Education, Health, and Human Services gives students the opportunity to practice in their field before graduation, ensuring that they are hireable. Duztin Hord and Sarah Gelpner are just two examples of students who quickly took their experiences to gain a rewarding job within their field.
For more information, visit Kent State’s Deaf Education website.