Most students who are Deaf are strong visual learners, and are able to mentally hold and manipulate visual information. Deaf students also show a high level of resilience, especially in their determination to understand a concept, complete a task and master a skill. We witness this "in spades" at EEESMA School for the Deaf.
So we asked, why not diversify the students' activities to allow them to engage with each other in different ways? Why not take them out of the classroom and engage them in activities that are new and interesting to them? To our amazement, two instructors from different walks of life, neither of them with any background in deaf education, came forward to offer their help to provide karate and chess as extracurricular activities. These activities help reduce stress, improve mood, and provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment. They also provide a sense of community, making students feel more connected and supported. We know, too, that these activities aid in improving sign language vocabulary.
The martial arts is an excellent way to help teach self-discipline and socialization skills. A typical hour-long karate class begins and ends with a bow to the teacher, or master. After a warm-up, students practice the art's particular skills, which may include kicks, punches and blocks. Each requires concentration and strict attention. You will see from the photos how the children are enjoying this newly discovered passion! All of the students have started at the same white belt level but are eager to advance. Testing for each new level, generally every three months, is a good exercise in setting and achieving goals.
Chess is the second extracurricular activity recently taken up by the students. Chess has proven to increase IQ, improve memory function, help develop higher levels of creativity, simultaneously exercise both sides of the brain, and increase a child's problem solving skills. Too often children who are Deaf are left to languish in silence in front of TV or a video game. Chess is a wonderful diversion which when offered stimulates and entertains them with many cognitive advantages. Children introduced to chess at a young age are more likely to do better in school, and have higher math and reading test scores.
The skills taught through the game of chess go far beyond the board. Learning chess can help children prepare for life difficulties, teach them how to solve problems in a creative way, and benefit children through improved IQ, memory function.
Karate and chess, one more physical and the other more mentally challenging, are offering our students fundamental development that they have never before experienced. And they are having fun doing it!
The children who come to EEESMA for the first time have little sign language acquisition and even less Spanish literacy skills. Because of your help and support, we are witnessing a great deal of positive development in these areas in all of the students. Thank you.
One reason this positive change is coming about is because this team of very dedicated teachers continue to develop professionally with further Deaf Education training. Last week the teachers, and many staff as well, took part in a 5 day, 2 hours per day after-school-hours online course to help them better understand what works best to deliver lessons that actively engage each student while expanding their sign language and Spanish vocabulary in the process. Feedback from the group about the course centered around their enjoyment of all being together in the same room, experiencing the course as a group and feeding off each others energy and enthusiasm. Things not experienced in a long time because of the Pandemic.
Through good old fashion experience, the teachers know that one of the ways to engage each student in a fun way is for each of them to learn the lyrics of Christmas songs in Mexican Sign Language, rehearse several times and then proudly perform them for guests and family at the school.
Last week, the students presented a traditional Christmas "Posada" and Musical Performance to entertain all those in attendance for this yearly event. We hope you will enjoy the attached photos of the children as they performed to an adoring audience of parents, syblings and the general school population. We are sure you will agree, the children are thriving and happy, and doing a wonderful job making everyone else happy as well!
All at EEESMA School for the Deaf join together to offer their gratitude for championing this extremely important cause of providing children who are Deaf the opportunity to recieve an education in their native Mexican Sign Language.
On behalf of the students and teachers, we wish you a very Joyous Holiday Season!
John and Sharon Doherty, Projects Leaders
"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn". Benjamin Franklin
A group of seven from Signs and Smiles, an NGO based in USA, visited EEESMA in early July. The group was made up of some of the most accomplished Deaf Education professionals in their field. The trip was designed to introduce the group to the students and faculty and to highlight many recent successes of the school to them. What happened next was utterly amazing! During various workshops and presentations, the EEESMA faculty and students became engaged in Sign Language at a level never before witnessed. New friendships were established, bonds were created, and enthusiasm and energy were at an all-time high!
Laurita and Fernanda, both Deaf, are two of the many students who benefitted greatly from the visit and interaction with the Signs and Smiles group.
Laurita will take on a teaching role at EEESMA once she wraps up her online modules in the next couple of months, thus earning herself an undergraduate degree in education. The experience of advancing her education has not only expanded her mind but also greatly enhanced her vocabulary in Mexican Sign Language. Communicating with highly educated Signs and Smiles professionals, many who are also Deaf, in sign language (a combination of ASL and LSM), has opened a new world of possibilities to her. She now has role models who are Deaf to inspire her, and she now sees first-hand how being Deaf need not restrict her place in the world.
Fernanda would also love to be a full-fledged teacher of the Deaf at EEESMA one day. Her love of sign language is palpable. Beng engaged in a conversation in her native language, sign language, with a young woman who is Latina and fluent in sign language herself, was life altering for Fernanda. Bonds were created that will never be undone and never before imagined dreams are now seen as real possibilities for the future.
Laurita and Fernanda, young deaf women who will make a difference to others who are Deaf, as they learn and grow through education. Thank you everyone who have helped to make their education at this amazing school possible.
The upcoming 2022-23 school year marks the 10th anniversary of the Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende A.C. (EEESMA). This significant milestone is being commemorated through a year-long calendar of 10 special events, some familiar and some new and exciting.
Our first special event showcases both the familiar and the new. We are launching a design contest to revamp our logo. As we reflect on the school’s growth over the past decade and prepare for the evolving needs of the future, we want to ensure that our community understands who we are, what we do and whom we serve. Our new logo will be a powerful visual tool to communicate that message.
A prize of $2,000 Mexican pesos or US$100 is being offered, along with a sterling silver pin bearing a rendering of the logo, created by the students in the school’s accomplished jewelry making workshop. The contest is open to all. Submissions will be accepted until June 15, 2022. The winning design will be announced on June 30, 2022. Full contest details are available on our website at www.eeesma.com.
The other nine events planned for the “Celebration of the Decade” include an incredible on-line silent auction in October, an initiative honoring the Deaf community on Day of The Deaf in November and of course our magnificent Robert Burns Supper in January. Watch for those announcements as you won’t want to miss them!
Exact dates and pertinent details will also appear on our website as they are finalized. We hope you will join us for some or all of the planned events as we honor all our former and current students and their families, staff, volunteers, and supporters whose commitment, dedication and hard work have paved the way that we continue to follow today.
EEESMA was established in August of 2012 by a local group of concerned citizens. There were then, and still are, no publicly funded schools for Deaf children in the State of Guanajuato. Their only option was to attend public school with hearing students, where they received no sign language instruction and very limited support. EEESMA was founded to help deaf children in San Miguel and the surrounding areas to become literate, independent, and productive citizens who set and achieve life goals. The school would not exist without the donations, grants and fundraising programs supported by private donors in Mexico and abroad, for which we are eternally grateful.
If you know of a child who experiences hearing loss, please reach out for help as soon as possible. Early intervention and language development for a deaf child will end their quiet isolation, strengthen their linguistic, cognitive and psychosocial skills and help facilitate their integration within their families and communities.
When we improve children’s futures we improve our own, and that’s worth celebrating!
Activities at EEESMA have been plentiful. Most recently the students have enjoyed some educational and enjoyable field trips. Please check out the photos and the video that accompany this report.
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