December 1, 2014
Dear Friends of Tucker-Maxon School,
I am delighted to reach out to you as the new Executive Director of Tucker-Maxon School. At Tucker, we teach deaf and hearing children to listen and talk together! Our intentional focus is on spoken language and emotional intelligence for all students. In this season of giving, I hope you will join me in supporting our wonderful school.
Since beginning here in June, I have learned that Tucker-Maxon changes many lives. Nowhere is this more evident than in the story of Anna Joy. Anna was born deaf in rural Montana. At 19 months, she received her first cochlear implant. As the only deaf child in her school district, she was isolated and her education was faltering. In January 2014, her family took a leap of faith – they made the decision to move to Portland so Anna could attend Tucker-Maxon.
Her dad Bill remembers: “It was a hard decision. I drove here over 600 miles, 12 hours. I looked in the classroom and there were all these first and second grade little girls. And I thought, Anna is going to love this.” Ten months later, Bill watches Anna run across the playground with her friends. “Anna has thrived,” he says, smiling.
Back in Montana, there was little knowledge of how to effectively meet Anna’s hearing needs. Despite years of interventions and special services, Anna Joy couldn’t communicate or understand spoken language properly. By the time Anna reached age 7, her family was increasingly worried. “It’s traumatizing to look back and see how little she could do,” her mother Amy says in retrospect.
Anna Joy’s family successfully campaigned to get her public school teacher to use an FM system that would amplify sounds to Anna’s implant. However, her teacher would leave the FM microphone on while yelling at other students with behavior problems. The majority of sounds Anna Joy received were meaningless to her, so she “tuned out” and became completely reliant on a sign language interpreter. One of the most telling aspects of the problem was that she wasn’t responding when her own name was called, even at home.
On the playground watching Anna play with friends at Tucker-Maxon, Bill continues: “If you know how much I love Montana and hate cities, you would realize how big a deal this was. It is all for Anna. There is nothing like Tucker-Maxon anywhere else that we have found.”
While Bill moved with Anna to Portland, Amy stayed back in Montana with their older children. Though it is hard for the family to be apart, Anna’s experience at Tucker-Maxon has been everything the family hoped for, according to her parents. Her spoken language and listening have dramatically improved in less than a year. She now responds to her name when it is called, and much more. She has a social circle of deaf and hearing friends who understand her, and she initiates conversations with people she doesn’t know. “It’s incredible how much progress she has made in such a short time here,” her mom Amy says.
Equally important, Anna’s family sees Tucker-Maxon as a nurturing environment emotionally and physically. “Have you seen the calluses on the hands of every kid here?” Bill says. “That is one sign of how much time they spend on the monkey bars during recess and after school. Some deaf kids tend to have balance problems because of inner ear problems. But this playground and P.E. program really encourages them to work on their balance.”
Anna’s teacher Christina Mosteller notes Anna is able to hear less than most other kids in the class, despite her cochlear implants. Tucker-Maxon’s small class size and coordinated services allow Christina to support Anna’s language development in an individualized way. Christina lights up when she discusses Anna’s creativity and intelligence. “Anna is an amazing kid,” says Christina. “This is absolutely the best place for her to be seen for her gifts.”
“I want her to be independent,” Bill describes. “That is what Tucker-Maxon is doing. It’s a nurturing environment that also helps her take chances.” Amy adds: “We didn’t know what was possible until we came to Tucker.”
I hope you will join us in providing for children like Anna, and contribute to Tucker-Maxon today. Contributions make up 45% of our revenue budget. Quite simply, without your support we could not do this work. Your gift will go towards providing our array of specialized programs and services that make Tucker-Maxon one of a kind.
Your gift of:
- $100 will provide a complete audiology evaluation for a child.
- $250 will provide programming for two cochlear implants.
- $500 will provide our entire range of early intervention services for an infant for one month.
- $1,000 will provide a personal FM system – a microphone worn by the teacher and a receiver used by a child – that transmits sound to the child’s ears, implants or hearing aids.
- $9,450 will provide a full scholarship for a pre-school student who is deaf or hard of hearing from a low-income background.
- $16,800 will provide a full scholarship for an elementary school student who is deaf or hard of hearing from a low-income background.
Our current and former Board Presidents, Sharon Higgins and Pam Fogg, have made a dollar for dollar matching challenge on all gifts of $100 or more, up to $10,000. Thanks to their generosity, your donation can be doubled, helping even more children. So, please make your gift today.