The St. John Family

 In Special Appeals

Step inside the kindergarten classroom at Tucker Maxon and you’ll quickly be surrounded by the sound of excited young voices as busy students read and share stories, cut and color art projects, and chat with friends during snack time. You’ll find Sydney St. John, a sparkly five-year-old who was born with profound hearing loss, right in the middle of the action – listening, talking, laughing and learning. For Sydney and her family, this is a miraculous gift.

When Sydney was born with hearing loss in both ears in May 2010, her parents were devastated. “It was a complete shock. I was so worried about the limitations and isolation she would face throughout her entire life,” says mom Karyn. “And I was so sad that she would never hear me say ‘I love you.’”

Sydney was fitted with hearing aids and started early intervention through her local school district in July 2010, but the family continued to feel overwhelmed. Then, Karyn met Tucker Maxon’s Early Intervention teacher Pam Fortier, and the family’s experience transformed from limitation to possibility.

“We started working with Pam at Tucker Maxon in September 2010 and we immediately saw what was possible for Sydney. We saw other kids with hearing loss and all that they could do. We wanted that for Sydney too,” Karyn remembers. “We were excited to learn what we could do to help Sydney learn to listen and talk.”

It hasn’t always been a smooth journey for Sydney, however. In the span of a year after her first cochlear implants were activated, both implants failed. Sydney lost access to full sound for 11 months and had to endure two additional surgeries. “It was so hard, and I started to doubt whether we had made the right decision about implants,” Karyn says. “Pam and the other Tucker Maxon staff were right there for us every step of the way. Pam even came to the hospital during the surgery. Without her, we could have easily given up on Sydney being able to hear and speak.”

Sydney entered preschool at Tucker Maxon with her hearing equipment fully functioning, but with a significant language delay because of the months she went without access to sound. Tucker Maxon’s highly skilled teachers of the deaf, on-site speech-language pathologist and audiologist were right there to help Sydney succeed. “She entered preschool as a quiet and shy little girl,” says Karyn. “By the end of her second year, she was a different child. She just opened up and became such a talker!”

Today, Sydney is an active participant in classroom activities. She enjoys playing with her classmates and talking with her teachers. She loves to learn and is highly motivated to speak clearly. She has made significant gains in her language development and continues to benefit from Tucker Maxon’s individual tutoring with her Teacher of the Deaf Anne Smyth.

Music is one of Sydney’s favorite activities. She can often be found at home in her Elsa costume belting out popular songs from the movie Frozen, like any typical five-year-old girl. Karyn feels none of this would have been possible without Tucker Maxon.

“It is hard to imagine life without Tucker,” says Karyn. “Everything that Sydney needs is all right here – help with equipment from an audiologist, speech therapy, great teachers who really know her, and of course, her wonderful friends. We feel so lucky Sydney is here and we couldn’t be here without the generous support of Tucker Maxon supporters.”

When I see kids like Sydney thriving socially and academically, I am so proud of the profound impact Tucker Maxon makes in the lives of our students every day. It is an honor to be part of this important work and I am extremely grateful to people like you who make our work possible.

With your support, we can provide the high quality, specialized programs and services our students need to succeed in school and in life. Please consider making a contribution today so that Sydney, her family, and dozens of other families will never have to imagine life without Tucker Maxon.

With gratitude,

Glen Gilbert
Executive Director


Help children like Sydney by donating today

Your gift of:
  • $100 – could provide a complete audiology evaluation for a child who is deaf
  • $250 – could provide 15 individual tutoring sessions with a certified teacher of the deaf
  • $500 – could provide new art, music or PE equipment for all our students
  • $1,000 – could provide nine therapy sessions with our speech language pathologist
  • $2,500 – could provide classroom supplies for five classrooms for an entire year
  • $5,000 – could provide a year of early intervention services for an infant who is deaf
  • $10,000 – could provide annual tuition for a preschool student from a low-income background
Recent Posts
Brady Johnson