Efforts of community volunteers are felt daily within local schools. Some coach Indian River School District sports teams. Others serve as mentors for students of all ages in every district school. A few provide monetary support and tools necessary to facilitate the educational growth of those students.
Volunteer representatives of the Lord Baltimore Woman’s Club visited Frankford Elementary last Friday to throw a Valentine’s party for some first-grade students and to present teachers with computer programs that create helpful learning tools.
Some of those programs allow teachers to create cutouts that feature a word printed next to a picture that illustrates the word. While such tools are especially helpful for students with hearing disabilities, the program helps students of all levels learn quickly by way of visual association, teachers and students said last week.
“It really helps,” said Caroline Hevner, a fourth-year Frankford special education teacher. “It makes it all visual. It helps every single one of them,” she added, and “makes a world of difference.”
OrVontae Dismuke, a first-grader at the elementary school, briefly left his Valentine’s Day candy unattended to add his opinion.
“They help me read,” he said. “If I don’t know the word, I can look for it. (The pictures) help me find the words.”
The woman’s club provided tools, including an FM radio and an amplifier, early last year to help hard-of-hearing Frankford students. There are currently seven students in Frankford’s Hard of Hearing and Profoundly Deaf Program (HHPD) and 30 district-wide. The presentation Friday was just an extension of a partnership, which will not end soon, according to one club official.
“This is an ongoing project,” said Peggy Bird, the group’s educational coordinator. “As long as they’ll have us, we’ll be here.”
Corinne Elliott, head of Frankford’s HHPD program, said the tools presented last week were especially helpful for the students with hearing disabilities.
“We’re probably the major classroom using it in this school,” Elliott said. “When you have a picture associated with the vocabulary, it really helps them. It gives them a visual.”
Program addendums presented last week also help teachers create lists of vocabulary words or schoolwork bulletins to take home to their parents, many of whom are Spanish-speaking and are just beginning to assimilate to the school.
Only two of the HHPD students’ parents speak English, Elliott said, but all of them attend Friday work sessions to help learn the language and the work their children are asked to complete in and out of the classroom.
With the take-home tools, the student-parent educational process continues at home, teachers have said.
“It’s used to help with the communication gap,” Elliott said of some of the tools. “The whole idea is to help their confidence and independence.”