Teachers at MCSD continue to celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month by working hard to provide their students with the very best accommodations and resources both inside and outside of the classroom.
First-year teacher, Jodie Hood, teaches science to students who are hearing-impaired at Shaw High School. Jodie has been deaf all of her life. She says that when she was growing up, school was difficult for her. “When I graduated from Jordan High School in 1995, I was at a fourth-grade reading level,” she says. “I didn’t have a sign language interpreter with me in the classroom, and I fell behind because of it.” Jodie says that even though it was often a struggle, she didn’t let that keep her from attending college. “I obtained a paraprofessional position within the Russell County School District before attending college and majoring in psychology at Columbus State University,” she explains. She remembers that during her time as a paraprofessional, she felt like a counselor, often forming close relationships with her students. “I thought maybe I would want to be a counselor for the Deaf,” Jodie remembers. “When I was a parapro, deaf students always wanted to talk to me about their problems, so I felt more like a counselor than a teacher.”
While working to obtain her degree, Jodie worked at Columbus State’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center as a student teaching assistant where she developed a love for both astronomy and teaching. “That’s why I became interested in teaching science,” Jodie says. After she graduated from CSU in 2009, Jodie worked in the Georgia Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as an Employment and Advocate Specialist, working closely with the Deaf Community in Columbus, GA. During that time, she also attended graduate school at Montana State University. “I got a master’s degree in science education. It was a neat program, because it offered both online courses and field courses in subjects like geology. I got to travel to places like Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park to study,” she says. Upon receiving her degree, Jodie began working at Shaw High School where she now teaches approximately 25 deaf and hard of hearing students.
“Since I have my own hearing loss, I can relate to students who also have hearing loss,” she says.“I want to show them that if I can do it, then they can do it, too.” Jodie emphasizes the Deaf Community’s aptitude to be successful and productive members of society. “We can do anything… we just can’t hear,” she says. Jodie also laughingly admits that she can relate to most first-year teachers, expressing that nothing could have prepared her for this new adventure. “Wow. I feel like I have a lot to learn! There is so much to learn on the job that you don’t learn while you’re in the classroom in college,” she says. In spite of the challenges that being a first-year teacher presents, Jodie says that she loves her job and that her favorite part is building relationships with the students and hearing their stories. Jodie proudly states that she loves to see her students grow and overcome the barriers that come with being hard of hearing.
Jodie confesses that one thing she wishes that the parents of deaf and hard of hearing students knew was how important it is to get their child help early. “It’s really imperative to the child’s academic success to get them help as early as possible,” she says. “They can receive assistance from the speech-language pathologists in the district, and there are a lot of online resources to point them in the right direction.” When asked what some of the early signs of deafness were, she mentioned that some children may not respond to sounds or may not speak in complete sentences once they are of a certain age. Children who have trouble socializing or reading may also have a hearing impairment. Jodie speaks from her own experience, as she was diagnosed with deafness at two years of age. “By the time I was diagnosed, I was already two years behind in language, and it really affected me,” she says. “I didn’t respond to sounds. My mom took me to the doctor, and the doctor told her that I was just spoiled.” After that, Jodie’s mother took her to Auburn for a hearing test that finally determined her diagnosis. “I have moderate to severe hearing loss. Without my hearing aids, we would not be able to have a conversation.” Jodie says even with hearing aids, she still can’t hear some of the things that others may take for granted. “I have had people tell me that they can hear their own heartbeat, but I can’t hear that.”
With a positive disposition and deep determination for success, Jodie doesn’t let her deafness stand in her way. “It’s not easy to be deaf and hard of hearing. I know that, and I want to show these students that they can do anything! I want to help them grow and become successful.” If you are looking for resources for deaf and hard of hearing students, Jodie recommends the following sources: https://muscogee.k12.ga.us/p/Divisions/StudentServices/StudentsWithDisabilities/Information https://www.asha.org/BHSM/