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Parent says program benefits her deaf son (w/video)

By Carolina Astrain
May 17, 2014 at 12:17 a.m.
Updated May 18, 2014 at 12:18 a.m.

Elijah Escobedo, 5, of Victoria, makes monster sounds to tell his mother what he is drawing at the 34th annual Deaf Education Picnic and Awards at Ted B. Reed Park in Victoria.

Hunter Greene pressed his palm against the bounce house net, signaling for his mother's attention.

Hunter, 3, is the son of two deaf parents, said his mother, Jennifer Greene, of Wharton.

"He loves to swing and watching trains and cars moving," Greene said using American Sign Language. "All transportation, he loves it."

The deaf mother and son were at the 34th annual Deaf Education Picnic and Awards celebration hosted by the Victoria Regional Day School Program for the Deaf.

Some have confused Victoria Regional Day School Program with services offered by the Region III Education Service Center, but the two are separate entities, said Judy Williams, Victoria Regional Day School Program for the Deaf director.

The program has served about 35 deaf students in the Crossroads this year, including some infants, Williams said.

Williams, of Yoakum, said she had been hard of hearing most of her life but didn't know it until attending Texas Tech University, where she earned a degree in deaf education.

"That's when it really hit home," Williams said. "The Lord was sending me in this direction, and at first, I didn't know why."

The regional program has about a $500,000 annual operating budget and receives a little less than half of its funding from state and federal funding, Williams said.

The rest is made up by membership dues paid by school districts.

The regional program's services for its youngest students are headquartered at Schorlemmer Elementary School; middle and high school student services are located at Stroman Middle School.

There is another cluster site located at Northside Elementary School in El Campo, Williams said.

"We're spread all over the region," Williams said. "Almost all over Region III."

The program is not only for deaf students; it is also open to students hard of hearing, Williams said.

"It might be a mild case, but what we look at is how their hearing may be affecting their education," Williams said. "Total communication is the program philosophy."

Having her son in the program has also not only served as a learning opportunity for the deaf parent but also allows her a break in the day, Greene signed.

"I put him in the program so that he could learn how to communicate with other kids," Greene signed. "For the first three years, he was only with me."

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