‘ISD sees enrollment boom’, 63 new students

My alma mater, Illinois School for the Deaf, got published in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier about how ISD is seeing an increase in enrollment numbers. I think it’s got to do with the technology and more information available through the web.

ISD sees enrollment boom by Darrin Burn.

Rachel Sweigart heard the wrong words at the wrong time. Or maybe it was simply one word too many.

There wasn’t one particular incident at her high school in Somonauk, said her mother, Arliss. But one day, the normally stoic 15-year-old came home in tears and Arliss and Scott Sweigart knew it was time for a change.

Rachel will soon attend the Illinois School for the Deaf, and she will be one of 46 new high school students there this year. There are 63 new students overall.

“Deafness is a low-incidence disability, if you want to call it a disability,” said ISD Superintendent Mary Beth Lauderdale. “Very few people have it. Fifty-three percent of deaf students are the only deaf kid in their school. They are looking for other kids like them.”

The Sweigarts recently visited ISD and Rachel was impressed, but told her parents she’d think about it. By the time they got back to their town about 30 miles south of Dekalb, she’d decided to go.

The Sweigarts did not know about ISD. Public schools are supposed to inform parents of deaf or hard-of-hearing students of all the options for their children, but Ms. Lauderdale said it sometimes doesn’t happen.

“The dad got on the Internet and typed in ‘deaf school’ and found us,” she said.

ISD is allowed by law to passively market itself — brochures in audiologists’ offices, for instance — but it cannot recruit.

The school is more than equipped to handle the influx of 63 students, said Director of Student Life Randy Shearburn. Thirty years ago, the school had close to 500 students. With the new arrivals, it now has 252. ISD is searching for a new algebra teacher, Ms. Lauderdale said.

So, if it wasn’t for the Internet, the Sweigarts wouldn’t have found out about ISD. The web is the way to go.

I wrote a blog about my experience at ISD. You can read it here.

One Comment, Comment or Ping

  1. C aka critic

    It’s good to see enrollment at ISD increasing. As an alumni, It is good news. I hope that with the increasing enrollment, they would also have more services provided to students needs. Examples of student’s needs not met in past would be additional services related to ADHD or Asperger Syndrom, for example. ISD indiana has probably one of the best services for their students and I hope ISD illinois follows their model. ISD indiana takes in all students regardless of their “special needs”, wheras in the past, ISD illinois rejected them. Let’s hope ISD illinois does better this time around. As alumnis, we have an obligation to see that our alma mater continues to be there for every deaf and hoh students.

    After reading your other post about your English and AOL. Let me tell you, there was one Alumni of ISD who was not in the upper class rank, but since AOL and computer became a part of his life, his English improved dramatically! This guy was smart! Only, he wasn’t able to prove that in H.S. I knew he was smart, he just needed a different approach to learning English.

    I have heard that many mainstream schools are giving parents a hard time revising their child’s IEP to allow their child to enter ISD. I know I had to get my parents to fight for me to enter after being mainstreamed back in the mid 70’s. Mainstream schools figures if you can do well in a regular public school setting, why do you need to go to ISD? There’s many factors and ISD and many other residential schools (boarding schools, if you will) provides a lot more than just education. The child is much more involved in all aspects of life learning process: Service clubs, activities, sports, etc. Not to mention, experiencing the deaf culture as well.

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