Inspired by the Learning Center for the Deaf

Inspired by the Learning Center for the Deaf

The latter part of last week I brought the warm Austin weather with me to Boston and made the rounds to visit old friends in both the iCreate and Tufts communities. With a full schedule both days (presenting at the Tufts Entrepreneurship conference tomorrow), I’m especially thankful I was able to make the short drive out to Framingham to tour the beautiful campus of The Learning Center for the Deaf.

Inspired by the Learning Center for the Deaf community

The Learning Center (TLC) is the largest deaf education provider in New England, positioned on a well-groomed 14-acre campus with 16 buildings, all very much typical of the old New England style. From immersive family programs to Reggio Emilia style PreK to a trade center for high schoolers to a full gymnasium, the campus encompasses all that an ideal PreK-12 school should have – whether in deaf education or not.

Throughout my tour and presentation, two things stood out to me that exemplified a campus for learning on all levels:

1) 100% of the teachers who attended my presentation gave me 100% of their full attention 100% of the time. I’ve given teacher presentations around the world – some of them interpreted (Macedonian to Mandarin to Italian), some of them not. Some of them with 6 teachers, some of them with 400 teachers. Some with distracting environments, some not. So, I’ve certainly experienced a range of circumstances, and this is the first time in 6+ years that I can confidently say I made consistent eye contact with each of the 20 or so teachers in the room. A windowless room, that is, on a (rare) sunny New England Thursday at 3:30pm. Now, while I’d like to say I’m just that interesting, it’s actually more of a testament to the faculty’s desire to learn and grow in their practice. Absolutely amazing.

2) All faculty and students exuded a consistent school pride that’s often confined to pockets within a school with public funding and feeling the weight along with the rest of us due to standardized testing. Yes, the TLC is a private institute, but does rely heavily on public funding and therefore all students must still take the MCAS. However, the sense of community across campus seemed to positively balance out these external stressful pressures.

I’m forever grateful to Sandie Bleecker who made the tour and presentation possible. It was such a breadth of fresh air to discover such a gem in our education system. We look forward to continuing to work with Sandie and her colleagues at the Center!

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