SEFFNER, Fla. — Diego was getting “a little bored” at Colson Elementary.
The fifth-grader is one of about 50 deaf and hard-of-hearing students at the Seffner school. The students with hearing issues come from all over the Tampa Bay area.
Up until two years ago, the deaf students were kept separate from the hundreds of hearing kids. Diego wanted to meet more people, but the opportunity wasn’t always there.
That is why teacher Olivia Williams fought for a big change.
“I wanted the deaf students to be able to function not only in a deaf world but a hearing world as well,” Williams says. “And this gives them the best of both.”
The school now blends deaf and hearing students in and out of classrooms. Teachers and interpreters work side by side.
The results have been overwhelming positive, both academically and socially.
“I’m happy,” says Diego through deaf interpreter Angie White, whose up for a Hillsborough County education award for her efforts. “I feel better. Now I have deaf and hearing friends.”
All of the kids are enjoying the perks of inclusion.
“We don’t treat anyone differently,” says Ellie, one of Diego’s “hearing” classmates. “We’re like one big happy family in this class.”