Kent Schafer, former student at ISD and now a webmaster at idhhc.state.il.us, sent me an article link to ISD’s increased enrollment number. It’s a refreshing news because ISD has been on the decline for as long as I can remember. It peaked at almost 500 students thirty years ago but now half the number at 252 students.
I was browsing around ISD’s website and read the letter by Superintendent Marybeth Lauderdale who was my old English teacher and an academic bowl coach.
Welcome to the Illinois School for the Deaf, where we celebrate a rich tradition. First, let me say that ISD is not an “institution.” it is a boarding school, where students attend school with other students like themselves, just like the Illinois Math and Science Academy, or IMSA, which is a boarding school in Aurora, Illinois for students who are gifted in math and science. Rich people send their kids to boarding school to be with other rich kids. Even Harry Potter went to boarding school! Children here go to school with other children who are deaf and hard of hearing, and discover their true potential and identity here, without some of the barriers that they may face in public schools. The Illinois School for the Deaf is a community.
I’m touched to see this example she used to explain that ISD isn’t really an institution. It’s a boarding school just like Tiger Woods’ learning center or Harry Potter’s boarding school. We had a conversation not too long ago and I was telling her that I watched Tiger Woods’ interview in a documentary video and I learned that he found a school called Tiger Woods Learning Center to provide a place for students with multi-cultural background and kids whose families couldn’t afford to send to private schools. So, that made me realize that deaf schools aren’t really an institution and are more like boarding school where students with similar background go to. She thought it was a great idea and used it in her Superintendent’s letter. Cool!