Entire Elementary School Learns Sign Language To Give Warm Welcome to First Deaf Student
For parents of children with special needs, it can be difficult to find the right school with the best programs for your unique child.
Every child is different and some need extra special care and attention. Still, many parents want their kids to experience as normal an environment as possible.
This is why it’s so important for schools to make sure every single student feels included.
Morey Belanger is one such student. Diagnosed with a rare hearing loss condition at the age of 1, the 6-year-old uses both sign language and hearing aids to help her communicate, according to People.
The little girl’s family wanted to make sure she was in the right school for her.
“We interviewed with a couple schools before Morey started kindergarten,” Shannon Belanger, Morey’s mom, told People. “It’s always daunting as a parent with a special needs child. You just don’t know what to expect and you’re nervous and you’re scared.”
The right school for Morey ended up being Dayton Consolidated School in Maine. The students and staff didn’t just accept their first ever deaf student into their circle — they incorporated sign language into their curriculum and posted signs throughout the school to help the students learn.
“They have been phenomenal,” Debby Gallant, the school’s Ed Tech, told WMTW of the students. “It makes me a little mushy. They probably know at least 15 signs if not 20.”
But the school didn’t stop there. According to CNN, a “hearing assistive system” has also been added. Teachers are learning to include sign language into their daily lessons as well.
“Morey — without even knowing it — has taught us so much,” Kimberly Sampietro, the school’s principal, told CNN. “She has brought a culture to our building that we didn’t have before.”
Now that culture can even add a Disney Princess to its name. A surprise visit from a Cinderella who just so happens to sing and know American Sign Language made everyone’s day sparkle a bit more.
WMTW reported that the special princess party included a performance by Cinderella herself. She sang and signed “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman.” Morey was dressed as Belle and the smile on her face couldn’t have been brighter.
“Seeing kids run up to her and hug her and want to have her join in with them and sit at lunch and go to birthday parties, it just really warms your heart,” Belanger told People. “For me, it shows that it is possible for families and schools to work together and to provide an environment that can help kids with special needs succeed.”
It is absolutely possible. This school’s staff and students have set a wonderful example that will hopefully encourage other schools to get on board with full inclusion and acceptance of children with special needs.
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