Page 1

J ourn a l of t h e Te x a s S c h ool for t h e D e a f

VOLUME 131, No. 3 Summer/Fall 2010 (ISSN 0893-2964)

TSD Cheerleader squad during Homecoming Front Cover TSD Homecoming King and Queen, Austin Hill and Christian Escamilla.

Table of Contents Cover Story 8-9..........................................TSD Homecoming 2010

Features 4-5...................................................Summer Programs 6............................................Family Weekend Retreat 7..................................................................“Dream Big” Opening of the 2010-2011 School Year

10.............................. News from the TSD Foundation 11........................................................... TSD and NASA TSD goes to the International Space Station (ISS)

12-14....................................... Strategic Planning and CEASD Accreditation 15....................................................... Meet Sean Virnig Special feature on our new Director of Education

16..................................................2010 Transition Fair Career Transition Services

17............................................Discovery Retreat 2010 18-19................................................Other Happenings


Governing Board

Claire Bugen Superintendent

Walt Camenisch, President

Sean Virnig Director of Education Gloria Seidlin-Bernstein Director of Student Support Services Gary Bego Director of Business and Operations Russell West Director of Residential Services 2  Lone Star • Summer - Fall 2010

Connie Sefcik-Kennedy, Vice President Sha Cowan, Secretary Jean Andrews Beatrice Burke Eric Hogue Susan Ridley Angie Wolf

Letter from the Editor Greetings and welcome to this issue of the Lone Star, this number includes basically all the events that happened during the Fall 2010 and some of the events that occurred during the Summer. Our cover story is about our traditional “Texas Size” Homecoming. I’m pretty sure when they came up with the saying “everything is bigger in Texas” they had the TSD Homecoming in mind. I hope that you enjoy all the stories on this issue and take a moment to remember those that are not with us anymore, their commitment and love for TSD will always be remembered. In another note, now you can visit our newly developed website, there you’ll find all the stories that are featured on the Lone Star, please take a time to visit us, read and share:

Thank you,

Fernando Muñoz

t: (512)-462-5327 | e: 1102 South Congress Avenue. Austin, Texas 78704.

Lone Star Editor/Art Director: Fernando Muñoz Contributors: Claire Bugen, Deborah Kopp, Lisa Crawford, Diana Poeppelmeyer, Wilmonda McDewitt, Anne Adams, David Coco, Jennifer Stoker, Kelvin Etkie, Franna Camenisch and Cary McKeller. Special thanks to: Cynthia Foss, Diana Poeppelmeyer, Twyla Strickland, Richard Norton, Russell O. West and Frank Medellin. Photography: Richard Norton, Fernando Muñoz, TSD staff and students.

Subscription Info A one year subscription to Lone Star, the quarterly journal of the Texas School for the Deaf, costs $10. Send check and mailing address information to: Lone Star Editor Texas School for the Deaf 1102 South Congress Ave Austin, TX 78704


from the Superintendent

Dear TSD Families, Staff and Community,

Welcome to the 2010-2011 School Year and TSD and get ready to Dream BIG!

Summer doesn’t much resemble the old days anymore. No lazy, hazy days of summer in our community. Things were busy with hosts of summer activities, including Summer School, Family Weekend Retreat, Communication Skills Workshops and the Statewide Conference on Education of the Deaf. We have a lot on our plates this year---so much to accomplish with Language Planning, CEASD Accreditation and Strategic Planning and of course—the 82nd Texas Legislative Session. Let me address these. I am delighted with our PLC (Professional Learning Community) approach to language planning (LP) this year. I know it is presenting a challenge in regard to the precious resource of time, but I believe the rewards for our students will be worth the effort. Almost every employee who works with students on the campus—including the principals, directors and myself—is involved in a specially created set of learning activities designed to launch our language planning efforts to a new level. If you see and hear about FFs, TTs, and WWs---we are not ordering fast food; we are talking about Foundation Fridays’, Take-Away Tuesdays’ and Wacky Wednesdays’. These are LP seminars designed to expand our understanding and application of important principles related to Signacy, Oracy and Literacy in bilingual education. CEASD Accreditation and Five Year Planning activities are in full court press right now as our School Community Planning Team and our Strategic Goal Teams develop the best practices and critical ideas to launch our new strategic goals with the foundation of our new mission, vision and belief statements supporting us. Last, but not certainly not least is the mighty 82nd Legislative Session, clearly a force to be reckoned with. We were required to submit our biennial budget request with a 10% reduction in funds. Clearly, if that becomes a reality—it will be devastating for TSD. With our growing enrollment and expanding demands for complicated and specialized related and support services—we need more resources, not less. I remain optimistic that working together we can reach our goals! Together in partnership with all of you we are already making a difference. Sincerely,

Claire Bugen Journal of the Texas School for the Deaf  3


At Volente Beach Park

Driving Education


TSD Summer Programs

TSD keeps serving children from across the state of Texas in a rich combination of academic and traditional camp experiences. By Deborah Kopp

Note from Director of Summer Programs: Ms. Kopp is one of many parents of children who attend the TSD Summer Programs. We typically serve between 250 and 300 children from across the state of Texas. Although funding has become a large concern regarding many facets of the TSD, the Superintendent has worked diligently to continue this program. She recognizes the importance of providing the many experiences provided during the summer, which includes a rich combination of academic and traditional camp experiences. We are happy to announce that Maggie, Lydia and many others will have the pleasure of another Summer Program in 2011. Informational brochures will be available in February and registration will begin in March.


very summer, I am faced with the question, “What am I going to do with my kids?” And every summer, I somehow manage to piece together a number of activities that keep them entertained, engaged, safe, and having fun. Not an easy task for the mother of three children ages fourteen, eleven, and nine. Besides our annual family gathering at Fenwick Island, Delaware, my two daughters, Maggie and Lydia, look forward to the Summer Program at the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD). We moved here in August of 2006 from Columbus, Ohio, largely so that my daughters could attend TSD. Maggie (now a sophomore) attended the Summer Program for the first time when she was about to enter the seventh grade. She had a wonderful time. That first summer, she went kayaking on Town Lake, tubing at Schlitterbahn, hiking in the Greenbelt, swimming at Barton Springs, and did all kinds of other wonderful activities she had never done before. Things that would have taken our family perhaps years and probably some serious financial planning to accomplish, Maggie did in two weeks time through the Summer Program. And this was only during the day! She stayed overnight in the dorms during her third year, which gave me a nice break.

4  Lone Star • Summer - Fall 2010

My daughter, Lydia (now a sixth grader), attended the Summer Program for the first time when she was about to enter the third grade. This was a wonderful experience for her, too. She attended the first two years during the day only. The last two years, she stayed in the dorms. Lydia did many of the same activities as her older sister, Maggie. Every evening, they compared stories - and suntans - as they excitedly reported the day’s events. Every year, I am thoroughly impressed with the amount of planning and organizing that goes into the Summer Program. At registration, I receive contact names and numbers as well as a detailed schedule of the two-weeks events. I know where my girls are and what they are doing at all times. Although there have been times when it’s taken a few hours to get back to me – if they are off campus, for example, I’ve always gotten a reply back from staff. They are friendly, thoughtful, and responsible. They provide not only educational experiences, but also a chance to have a lot of fun with friends. A big bonus is the cost. No where will you find a better program for the price. And there are scholarships available for families in need, too. Having come from another state, I can attest to the fact that the opportunities and experiences TSD provides Deaf children in the summer

Middle School Summer Program group picture.

time are exceptional. I am grateful my girls have been able to attend. Over the last four years, Maggie and Lydia have done more in Austin than I have, all thanks to the Summer Program at TSD. They’ve been to Sea World, Six Flags, Schlitterbahn, Volente Beach, Granite Beach, and Silver Trails Ranch. They’ve gone roller skating, kayaking, horseback riding, rock climbing, zip lining, rappelling, tubing, and laser tagging. They’ve picked up litter in Bouldin Creek, packed food at the Austin Capital Area Food Bank, and cleaned up graffiti around the neighborhood surrounding Congress Avenue. They’ve constructed beautiful arts & crafts and eaten healthy meals. They’ve stayed in touch with classmates and made new friends from all over the state. And they always come home with a nice new t-shirt. Lunch at Kleberg

Culinary Arts

Archery Making Waves at Lake Travis

AFamily Record-Breaking! Weekend Retreat 2010 By Lisa Crawford


he word is obviously spreading about Family Weekend Retreat (FWR). There was a 25% spike in attendance at this year’s retreat – 54 families (233 adults and children) took part in this annual summer event. This unique educational/social program is for families (and their extended family members) from all over Texas with children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The TSD campus is in high demand all summer but we are fortunate to use it for a few days to host FWR. This allows us to take full advantage of the short time we get to spend with families and we work hard to keep everyone busy! Workshops are offered for the adults on Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday morning and the kids are kept entertained with a variety of activities. Not only do the deaf and hard of hearing children have an opportunity to be surrounded by wonderful adult role models and peers who are deaf or hard of hearing, the hearing children also can meet other families like theirs and learn more about deafness – all while having a great time! 6  Lone Star • Summer - Fall 2010

We kicked off the weekend on Friday night with a special icebreaker activity hosted by Debbie White. Debbie is a bit of a legend at Family Weekend Retreat – she is always smiling and full of energy and has a special talent for making everyone feel welcome. While the parents enjoyed the icebreaker and got to know one another, the kids joined one of four groups – Early Childhood, Youth, Teen or Sibshop – and got a chance to get to know the other kids and the incredible staff and volunteers. Saturday morning we all enjoyed a hot, delicious breakfast prepared by our hard-working cafeteria staff. The children were dropped off for their funfilled morning and the adults headed over to the auditorium where our superintedent, Claire Bugen, welcomed everyone and kicked off the day. A panel of deaf and hard of hearing adults was our first presentation and we were very fortunate to have some wonderful participants who all graciously shared their life experiences. Next we heard from parents Shelly and Jon Bergeron who shared their story about adopting

a deaf son and how they incorporate exposure to language in their daily life. The afternoon offered 11 different breakout sessions, with a variety of topics for the adults to choose from – Technology, State Resources, Special Education Law - to name a few. The day ended with an awesome parent panel and on Saturday evening families got to mingle, swim, ride the famous Jigglebug train and play games in the gym. We spent Sunday morning in discussion groups, which allowed parents a chance to digest the information they had gathered and make connections with other families. The weekend closed with an inspirational presentation from two FWR favorites - Wess Smith and Kim Powers-Smith. We are looking forward to the next Family Weekend Retreat on June 9-12th, 2011. A BIG thanks goes out to all the TSD employees, volunteers and speakers that make this event possible!

Opening of the Year

Cruz Lane and Jessica Von Garrel

By Claire Bugen


reamers only” warned the invitations for the Dream Big Opening of the 2010-2011 school year with the inspiration provided by our 2010 Valedictorian, Claira Oberrender. Claira told the standing room only audience at the commencement ceremonies, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Since a picture is worth a thousand words—this year’s Opening School theme— DreamBIG—featured a beautiful tale of wonder, wisdom and wishes by Susan Bosak, with brilliant ASL translation by elementary teacher Jessica Von Garrel, Sign Language Coordinator, Wess Smith and LRC specialist Gary Coats. The celebration was filled with the usual motivational messages about what to expect this school year presented in the form of skits, games and enough dream metaphors to make you weep on command! Staff competed in Dream Jeopardy and experienced some humorous workplace related Freudian dream analysis. New employees were introduced as the missing ingredients in the Recipe for a Dream prepared by the Executive Leadership Team with bigger than life utensils and props on stage. We also had a special appearance by the Olympic USA Dream Team bearing great resemblance to TSD principals and sending their messages in the form of basketball plays e.g. running the motion offense for fast breaks and big dreams, passing and dribbling dreams around the campus, avoiding technical fouls and illegal hits from the dream busters just to mention a few. Our curriculum staff performed a black-light skit on the ABC’s of Dreams.

An annual tradition, this year’s theme kits, or DREAM kits, included the following notables: • Heart-shaped sunglasses to remind you that to launch a dream you need vision and heart! • Flip-Flop necklaces to remind you that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. • Dream colored water guns to remind you to shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. • Starbursts to remind you that you all shine in your own special way. • Cotton Ball Clouds to remind that when dreaming big gets tough; all clouds have a silver lining. • Dream Catcher Key Chains to protect you from the bad dreams and nightmares that creep into your classrooms, dorms and offices when you are sleeping. • Lucky Coins to remind you that a penny for your thoughts and a dime for your dreams will inspire your students to do great things. • Midnight Milky Way to remind you to keep reaching higher and higher. • A Penny Stamp to remind you to deliver on your dreams! The celebration concluded with a Signed musical presentation of Ryan Shupes song, Dream Big by alumnus Cruz Lane and Jessica Von Garrel accompanied by cheers and confetti canons. To quote a TSD employee who shall remain anonymous, “I don’t normally go ga-ga gushing over Opening Day but it was truly uplifting!”

Homecoming Court.

Akeem Guidry sprints down the Gamblin Field.

Homecoming 2 Texas School for the Deaf successfully hosted the annual Texas Size Homecoming


In addition to football, the Junior Varsity and Varsity Volleyball teams dominated the court against the Concordia Academy teams! The gym was truly packed with fans colored in blue and white and rooting for their victories! It definitely was a winning Homecoming for all!

During the Homecoming games on Saturday, October 9th, the TSD football team manhandled the Indiana School for the Deaf team with the final score of 57-15! During the exciting halftime, Austin Hill and Christian Escamilla were crowned the Homecoming King and Queen! The royalty court also included four other seniors: Joshua Eziashi, Akeem Guidry, Ashlee Lambert, and Marivel Holguin as well as two juniors, Prince Ramior Dominguez and Princess Kenish Hernandez. Congratulations to the winners!

Varsity Volleyball

By Wilmonda McDewitt

uring the fun-filled spirit week for Homecoming, TSD classes competed in many games to get the most points to win money and prizes from Student Life. The senior class got 1st place and won $250, a banner, and a trophy! The sophomores got 2nd place with $150. The freshman class was ranked third and won $75 while junior class got $25 for placing fourth. Everyone truly enjoyed the fun competition!

8  Lone Star • Summer - Fall 2010

Spirit Week 2010

Jersey Day.

Carnival Mall.


Cowboy Day.

“Ranger Number One” at the Pep Rally.

The Talent Show.

Celebrity Day.

Blue and White Day.

Journal of the Texas School for the Deaf  9

News from the Texas School for the Deaf Foundation

4th Annual Mini-Grant $15K Awarded for Campus Projects/ Classroom Support By Anne Adams


Ken Wolf, DeDe Wolf and Jon Wolf

Walt Camenisch and Franna Camenisch

TSD Foundation Celebrates a Decade of Support By Anne Adams


n a beautiful Friday evening prior to TSD’s 2010 Homecoming celebration, the TSD Foundation hosted its first Friends of the Foundation event to thank the many supporters who have helped make the school one of the best in the nation. The courtyard of the newly renovated former Superintendent’s home on TSD campus was transformed into a casual, welcoming venue where guests enjoyed appetizers prepared by Arouse Your Palate, a deaf-owned and operated catering company. Guests shared laughter and stories about life on the campus of the Texas School for the Deaf. The Foundation intends to make the Friends of the Foundation event an annual tradition to thank all those who so generously support the school. 10  Lone Star • Summer - Fall 2010

Honored for their outstanding service and financial support were: Leaders in Giving Charlie & Jan DiMare Oliver “Jack” Walkup Arthur Eck & Conrad Clark Bill & Evelyn Floerke Cecelia, Dan and Amanda Carmichael John Blazier Mark Seeger & Jeffrey Harper Andra Brooks & Anthony Laos Leaders in Service Anthony Holm August Harris Gertie Galloway Joel Craig Diana Poeppelmeyer

he TSD Foundation recently completed its 4th annual minigrant cycle approving a record 36 grants for nearly $15,000 to support TSD teachers, classrooms and projects. Teachers and staff submitted over $34,000 in requests providing the grants committee with quite a challenge. The mini-grant program is one of several initiatives supported by the TSD Foundation to fund the growing gap between the needs of teachers and staff at TSD and appropriated funds from the state. Proposals ranged from requests for materials to increase student access to health information, speech aids for early childhood education, support for math and science initiatives, arts and crafts, plus technology to make both teachers and their aides more efficient. Grant recipients will provide yearend reports on the impact of their awards so the Foundation can learn ways to continuously improve its programs. The Foundation relies on the generous support from individuals, corporations, public, and private foundations. For more information on the Foundation or ways you can provide support, please contact Anne Adams, Executive Director at 512-462-5750 or anne@

TSD Goes to Space with NASA Texas School for the Deaf Gets Video Message From the International Space Station By David Coco


SD was anxiously awaiting a message from space and finally the message arrived.

While aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson used American Sign Language (ASL) to respond to inquiries submitted by students from TSD. Caldwell Dyson recorded almost an hour of video footage addressing their questions about life on the ISS. NASA sent the video footage to TSD in November and students are now working on editing this video for public release. Caldwell Dyson suggested this project as a way to inspire deaf students to learn more about space science and to encourage them to pursue space related

careers. Caldwell Dyson learned ASL from friends in high school and college and wanted to use her signing skills to connect with deaf students. NASA contacted TSD when Caldwell Dyson was preparing for her recent trip to the ISS and asked if TSD would be interested in collaborating with NASA on this project.

the public through the NASA website. Check the ERCOD website for future updates on this project: www.tsd.state. The liaison with NASA is Dr. David Coco, from the Educational Resource Center on Deafness at TSD. Dr. Coco is a former NASA intern who was also involved in space physics research at the University of Texas for over 20 years. Dr. Coco said, “Our students are really excited about this opportunity to work with Tracy and NASA to increase awareness of opportunities in space science to deaf students.”

TSD students in Bobbie Guerra’s Video Technology class will be working with science teachers at TSD to create a variety of video segments related to this project throughout the Spring Semester in 2011. These lessons will focus on a variety of topics such as spacesuits, hazards of space travel, and communication onboard the ISS.

Caldwell Dyson taught the other ISS crew members some sign language and they used their new skills to send a welcome message to TSD students.

The video lessons will be available to This video can be viewed at: Journal of the Texas School for the Deaf  11

Strategic Planning/CEASD Accreditation Vision 2011-2016: Strategic Planning and CEASD Accreditation Self-Study Begin By Claire Bugen

New Beliefs:

Top External Issues:

exas School for the Deaf has been involved in comprehensive Strategic Planning utilizing a diverse School Community Planning Team since 2000. Our strategic plan for 2011-2016 will provide our TSD community a road map for the next five years. This strategic plan will reaffirm our core values and beliefs, refine our mission, determine a bold new vision and ultimately result in five strategic goals and objectives for ensuring ongoing excellence in our school. The strategic planning process parallels the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD) Accreditation Self-Study process and consequently TSD does both of these endeavors in tandem.

• We believe that equal partnerships built on mutual respect and cultural responsiveness among families, school and community are essential for student success.

• Funding


CEASD Accreditation: CEASD accreditation has 12 Standards that the school must be compliant with. Each Standard has been assigned to a leader to convene a Standard Committee, conduct a needs assessment and come up with a Standard rating, and a summary of strengths as well as areas in need of improvement. The Standards and the Leaders are as follows:

November 2010 On November 9 and 10, 2010 the School Community Planning Team once again facilitated by Rita Gibbs, reconvened to add four new belief statements and to review the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) presented by our Internal and External analysis, including our review of the CEASD Standards summaries. 12  Lone Star • Summer - Fall 2010

• We believe that effective, individualized early childhood and family education, starting at birth, is a critical foundation for language acquisition, cognitive and social development. • We believe that all staff share responsibility for providing educational, social, and cultural experiences that support student growth and learning. • We believe that transition is an ongoing process of preparing all students to become engaged and responsible citizens who are productive and selfdirected.

• Changing Technology • Changing Demographics • Increase in Diverse Populations • Government Mandates • Insufficient Pool of Qualified, Trained Staff

Internal Analysis: The internal analysis examined TSD’s own performance and capabilities. The School Community Planning Team reviewed TSD’s internal scan data, which included the following: • Student Enrollment Data and Trends • Student Demographics

Presentation • Student Achievement Data on Technology, Curriculum of Best Ideas to • Reports and Language Planning from the Survey of Employee Governing Board, • Data Engagement April 29-30, • Data from the following AdvancED Surveys: Parents, Students, Community, Teachers and Support Staff 2011. External Analysis: The School Community Planning Team reviewed the External scan data examining the social, economic, technological, legal and educational issues that have the potential to impact TSD in the next five years.

Results from CEASD Standards Assessment: Philosophy and Mission, Governance and Leadership, School Improvement Planning, Finances, Facilities, School Climate and Organization, Health and Safety, Educational Programs and Outreach, Assessment and Evidence of Student Learning, Stu-

dent Services, Student Life and Student Activities, Information Resources and Technology

in our strategic planning and in our outreach.

Final Strategic Goal Areas identified for the Next Five Years:

The team was divided into varied working groups at two different times in the process and as a result of the above information identified issues that must be addressed in our Strategic Plan.

• Staff Support/Allocation • Technology

Part I: Top Internal Issues:

• Changing Demographics/Diversity

• Impact of late enrollment on teaching, learning and assessment.

• Curriculum and Instruction

• Lack of an organized, articulated and spiraled curriculum plan for what we teach.

• Outreach Expansion

• Need for better integration of and use of our technology to maximize learning, to extend outreach–including more staff development. (Policies and Procedures.) • Behavior and bullying data raise concerns about classroom environment and lack of a whole child approach to PBS—concern about overlooking relationship between student behavior, academic achievement, literacy, etc. • Importance of continued Language Planning and its impact on ASL curriculum, assessment, development of language profiles and the continued equality of signacy, oracy and literacy in teaching and learning. • Insufficient supports and resources for the size, diversity and changing demographics of the student population impact teaching, learning, assessment and morale.

Part II: Top Internal Issues: • Limited Resources and the need to adapt and confront limited resources; maximizing what we have, bringing new efficiencies to what we have and how we do business, evaluate our programs consistently, look at skill transfer, succession issues, efficiency in planning etc. • Maximizing Instruction with consideration of issues like technology integration, time on task, relevance, higher order thinking, Language Planning, assessment results focus on

• Healthy and Safe Climate

December 2010

strengths not only deficits, transition issues early and continuous. • Lack of clearly defined curriculum may be contribute to additional teacher stress and burnout, curriculum should support 21st century learning and should be based on educational philosophy—child centered—should it be developed within or purchased—needs thoughtful consideration.

Strategic Goal Team Chairs and CoChairs received training on how to conduct their Strategic Goal Teams including training on editing their goal, chair responsibilities, problem solving processes, what “best program” ideas look like, meeting management and the final product of the SGT. SGT leaders were reminded to utilize all the resources in their TSD Vision 2016 notebooks in addition to the summary documents above. SGT leaders were reminded to include information from all the stakeholder surveys, the academic and demographic data and the CEASD Standards data.

• Health, Safety and Wellness of Staff and Students, fostering leadership, focus on recruitment and retention, preserve the emotional and physical well being of staff and students, increase access to student life after school for day students, provide a safe environment for all to Learn, Grow and Belong—whole child approach to bullying, classroom management, PBS. Incentives for staff in lieu of pay, focus on diversity, acceptance and cultural responsiveness in our community. More shared professional development and concerns about deficits in policies and procedures.

Strategic Goal Team Chairs’ Training

• Outreach and Public Awareness— more partnerships, focus on family and community, open up TSD to the world via website re-design, communication across campus and among departments, concern about engaging the entire TSD community

• Healthy and Safe Climate— Chair: Russell West Co-Chair: Gloria Seidlin-Bernstein

• Staff Support/Allocation of Resources—Chair: Sean Virnig Co-Chair: Claire Bugen • Technology— Chair: Mari Liles CoChairs: Sharee Darce and Efren Palacios • Changing Demographics and Diversity—Chair: John Serrano Co-Chair: Johnett Scogin • Curriculum and Instruction—Chair: Stella Egbert Co-Chair: Joey Vaughan

• Outreach Expansion—Chair: Diana Poeppelmeyer Co-Chair: Kenny Richter Journal of the Texas School for the Deaf  13

What is the Mission of the Strategic Goal Teams? To identify the “best ideas” or most innovative ways to accomplish the team’s assigned strategic goal area through an effective team problem solving and consensus decision-making process. What is a “best idea”? It is broad in scope and addresses growth, stretch, and change. (Not dayto-day business)
It is “research based” (Has been duplicated, has met proposed needs in the past, has had a positive impact on targeted population)
Has school wide impact Are the SGT’s (Strategic Goal Teams) starting from scratch? No, the SGT’s are utilizing the work of the School Community Planning team, which was based on a comprehensive internal and external assessment of our strengths and areas of need at TSD. Can the SGT add any new information? If the team has reason to believe that a critical issue related to their goal was not discussed in previous strategic planning meetings and is essential to achieve their strategic goal they may include it in their final report.

The School Community Planning Team.

to the Goal:
Research, evidence or best practices related to those ideas:
Summary of Recommended objectives to implement your Goal: Is there a deadline to complete the report? Yes, the deadline is April 15—TAX DAY! What happens then?

SGT Training Next Steps Our Top Critical Issues will be translated into Strategic Goals and assigned to Focus Groups or Innovative Research Teams (IRTs). These teams will have expanded membership and bring in more of our community of teachers, administrators, support staff, dorm staff, etc. The teams will have until Spring Break to flesh out their strategic goals and

The reports will be presented to the TSD Governing Board for their approval and incorporated into the new Five Year Plan publication subsequent to that.

What will Strategic Goal Teams (SGTs) Do?

Currently SGT Chairs’ are inviting membership to their teams. If, however, you have a particular interest in joining an SGT, please make that known to the Chair or Co-Chair.
We welcome participation by our entire school community.

Will this complete our process?

Make sure the ideas/objectives are broad in scope so that they can drive the entire school’s efforts.

What does the final product of the SGT look like?
The final product is a two to three page summary of your SGT’s best ideas, your rationale for choosing them and evidence as to why they are the best ideas to implement your strategic goal.

Will we prepare a document for CEASD?

Is there a format for the final product? Yes, the format is as follows:

For more information on this training you may refer to the link below.

Strategic Goal:
Team Members:
Key Information from Internal and External Analysis:
Best Program Ideas Related

Who can participate in a SGT?

14  Lone Star • Summer - Fall 2010

It will complete our Strategic Plan but our Standards Review and preparation for our on-site visit from the CEASD Accreditation Team will continue through the summer.

Yes, we will prepare a self-study document, which will include all of the work we have done for our Strategic Plan and some additional documentation.

Identify the “best ideas” or most innovative ways to accomplish the strategic goal.

Ensure that the ideas or objectives will have a positive impact on achieving the strategic goal. Look at research proven practices, what are other schools doing, consider what we are currently doing related to the strategic goal and what is working well and what is not. Be sure your objectives to achieve the strategic goal addresses growth, stretch, change and improvement. You are all invited to follow our progress on our website at


Sean Virnig Our New Director of Education By Diana Poeppelmeyer


n November 1st, Sean Virnig became the new Director of Education. Sean brought with him a wealth of experience having been a classroom teacher, K-12 Principal and a Public Policy Specialist. Sean received his BA degree in Government and Education from Gallaudet University, his Masters from the University of Minnesota in Educational Psychology and Deaf Education and he has completed all his PhD coursework in Educational Administration and Policy and is currently completing his data collection for his dissertation. Sean holds both Principal and Superintendent certifications. Sean has served on the CEASD Board, participated on several CEASD Accreditation visits, including TSD’s last visit in 2005. He has done a variety of consulting work in deaf education, special education and public education.

When asked to answer a few fun questions to round out this introduction, Sean gamely agreed. What excites you most about your new job at Texas School for the Deaf? The people at TSD excite me the most about my job. Dedicated and friendly, they are simply fabulous to work with.

What has surprised you the most about TSD or Austin Texas? How natural everything feels at TSD and in Austin. With the warm climate, friendly atmosphere and a great team, I fit into TSD immediately. The same is true for the city of Austin, which is remarkably similar to my adopted hometown of Northfield in Southern Minnesota. This riverfront town of only 12,000 is quaint and progressive, and is home to two well-regarded liberal arts colleges. What signs have you picked up that have a Texas twist? Here are some that quickly came to mind: Immediately, forsure, and history. I am sure there are several more as I have had already assimilated into using them. What is something about you that would surprise most people? That I am a recovered quadriplegic. For reasons still unknown to this day, I was paralyzed by Guillain-Barre syndrome when I was sixteen years old; I had to learn how to walk again. We are far more resilient than we could ever imagine. Journal of the Texas School for the Deaf  15

CTS Annual Transition Fair Career and Transition Services Department hosted the annual event. By Jennifer Stoker


n November 5, the Career and Transition Services Department hosted their annual Transition Fair. Although this event happens every year, this time the event was unique in name and in spirit. Traditionally, the fair had a strong college focus and served primarily our college bound students. However this year, CTS expanded the event by inviting representatives from a variety of community-based agencies who serve deaf and hard of hearing individuals statewide. Consistent with the spirit of the event, the name Transition Fair was chosen over College Day showcasing the effort to support all of our students. Corey Gember and Jennifer Stoker co-chaired the event and worked tirelessly with the CTS department, principals, and teachers to make the Transition Fair successful. There were representatives from eight colleges including Gallaudet University, National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), and Austin Community College. Six of the eight colleges hosted presentations in American Sign Language (ASL) and answered students’ questions about their programs while the others shared information with interested students at their booths. Our junior and senior students had the opportunity to select three different college presentations based upon their intended majors and college interest. In addition to the college representatives, 18

16  Lone Star • Summer - Fall 2010

public agencies participated including several branches of the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DARS), Easter Seals, and Austin Travis County Integral Health. Approximately 40 students attended an ASL presentation held by Southwest Center for Higher Independence from San Antonio. For the freshmen and sophomores, we offered a panel discussion consisting of four Deaf professionals. The panelists had an opportunity to explain their careers, the education/training that was required for their chosen careers, and answer questions posed by the students. The panel included a photographer, a chef, an ASL Professor and an interior designer. Parents received notification of the fair through handouts at Registration Day, documents sent home, and e-mail reminders. These efforts paid off with a good number of parents coming up to support their sons and daughters at the fair. Surveys were sent to attendees, students, and teachers. Many people commented that it was the best Transition Fair they had experienced here at TSD and we hope the same will be said after the 2011 Transition Fair next fall. Thanks to the Transition Fair committee members, Tamara Suiter-Ocuto, Karen Henry, and Susan Greene as well as other staff across campus who were involved in helping to make the TSD Transition fair such a big success!

Discovery Retreat Students Tackle BP Oil Spill By David Coco


eaf and hard of hearing students from all across Texas built robots to find and cap a simulated oil spill based on the recent real-life BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Thirty students, most of whom had no prior experience with robots, learned how to design, build, and program robots during the Discovery Retreat – Building Your Dreams weekend retreat. This event, held on Oct 15-17, 2010 at Peaceable Kingdom Retreat Center in Killeen, gave students a chance to learn about robot technology and explore related science and engineering career opportunities. DJ Monahan, a deaf engineering student from RIT, shared some experiences with robot competitions during his keynote presentation on Friday evening. Paul Stropko and Dan Guerra, TSD teachers who are also experienced robot programming instructors, led the robot activities throughout the weekend. Nick Bannon, also from TSD, led the teambuilding and experiential learning activities. Students constructed the robots from the Lego Mindstorms robot kit that is used by many other schools across the country. The robot movements were controlled using programming code written by the students. Developing this

code gives the students a quick introduction to what they can expect from college software programming classes. Even though most students had no prior experience with robots they picked up the required programming skills quickly and by the end of the retreat were programming complicated robot movements. The retreat wrapped up on Sunday with a robot challenge course competition. The robots were required to follow the trace of the oil spill and place a cap on the source of the oil leak. The prize went to the group with the robot that successfully completed the course in the fastest time. It is interesting to note that it took BP engineers three months to cap the real life oil spill but the Discovery Retreat students did it in three days. This retreat included 11th and 12th grade students from both oral and signing programs with deaf college students serving as counselors and role models. Captioning and sign language interpreters were provided to facilitate communication. The students were nominated by their teachers and selected for this retreat based on their academic records and their leadership potential. The retreat was sponsored by the Educational Resource Center on Deafness at TSD with support from the Texas Workforce Commission, NTID/RIT, and PEPNet.

Photos and a video from the retreat can be viewed at: Journal of the Texas School for the Deaf  17


Mr. and Miss TSD Pageant By Wilmonda McDevitt


n November 4th, Student Life presented Mr. & Miss TSD, Connor Miers (Freshman) and Amelia Hamilton (Freshman). They were judged in 5 categories; a private Interview which took place in the afternoon before the pageant show, a 1-minute Platform Presentation, a 3-minute Talent Performance, Formal Wear, and an On-Stage Interview. Seniors Alex Maddux and Ashley MacDonald were the Master and Mistress of Ceremonies and they entertained the audience through the night. During the Platform Presentation, each contestant was to present 1 minute on whether or not teenagers benefit from social networking such as facebook, myspace, etc. Most of them provided pros and cons regard-

ing social networking. In the Talent portion of the contest, Amelia Hamilton performed “This Has to Stop” which was about how bullying can destroy lives. Marti Lail performed a song, “I Can Only Imagine” By MercyMe. Jonathan Ford did a storytelling on “Weird Time Machine” and Conner Miers did a skit, “Be True to Yourself ”. Jade DeLaO performed a skit about a father trying to determine whether or not to stop a stranger assaulting a female, and when he did, he discovered his daughter a victim. All performances were beautifully done. Connor Miers and Amelia Hamilton will represent TSD at the 13th Annual Mr. & Miss Deaf Teen America Pageant at Indiana School for the Deaf in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 1620, 2011.

Amelia Hamilton and Connor Miers.

Awards: 1st Runner-Up - Jonathan Ford & Jade DeLaO 2nd Runner-Up - Marti Lail Best Platform Presentation - Amelia Hamilton Best Talent - Jade DeLaO Best Formal Wear - Jonathan Ford & Jade DeLaO

A Loss to the TSD Community

Story Contributors: Franna Camenisch.

Kelvin Etkie and

Later after several trials at the Houston Oilers and Kansas City Chiefs NFL teams, he played semi-pro teams in Toronto, Canada. On the world stage, Sammy participated on the USA Men’s Track Team in the 1957 and 1961 World Games of the Deaf. He was a bronze medalist in javelin throw in 1957 and shot put in 1961.


fter a brave and difficult struggle, alumnus Sammy Marvin Oates
 succumbed to complications from prostate cancer and died peacefully on
 Wednesday, October 6, 2010. Sammy grew up in Austin and attended Texas School for the Deaf. During his student days, he was a star
 in almost every sport on campus. In 1958 he broke a record in shot put. As a football star, Sammy set a 
rushing record of an average of 10.1 yards per carry that remains unbeaten to this day. Sammy was also a one-man swim team and represented TSD at the Southwest Academic League State Meets in 1955 and 1956. In both years he won the diving championship and earned enough points to help TSD 18  Lone Star • Summer - Fall 2010

win second place in these competitions.

Sammy was 
an avid bass fisherman and hunter and had several bass and deer trophies
 displayed at home. Above all, Sammy was a humorous and most loved man full
 of smiles. He beat the odds, stayed humble and learned to love richly. We will forever remember him.

After high school, Sammy entered Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas on a full football scholarship.

Sammy is survived by his wife Brenda Simpson (‘60) and their children Toni (‘81), Jodi (‘84), and Sammy Jr.(‘88).

TSD Graduation portrait, 1958

“The Jersey” By Cary McKeller “Football is what separate boys from men”, or so I was taught. But, I realized I was wrong.

Tribute to Denice Goodridge By Lone Star

Denice had been part of the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) community for more than 40 years as a student, parent of a deaf child, Day Residential Educator, and Head Chaperone. Many, including staff and students at TSD, have felt her contribution to the Residential Services division. Denice was known as a serious advocate for our students and parents, always offering recommendations and feedback. In her 13 years of service at TSD, “Denice would repair student’s clothing, sewing on buttons… helped decorate dorms and cottages for holidays and loved to be with our students at holiday parties and activities. She was a great role model for our students and staff.” So much so that Denice was given a cool nickname by her team of Head Chaperones, “Grandma Bus.” The members of the team often received training from Denice on the job and learned how to work with students on charter buses. Denice passed away on October 11th. 2010. Needless to say, Denice was a valuable and contributing member of the TSD community.

Domanique Penny is a senior student at TSD and he taught me a lesson, which I think every athlete should learn. He started football when he was a freshman, when everyone else had no hope for him. Nevertheless, he was born with a big heart, and when most of the kids I knew growing up would have quit or found some kind of excuse to not play, this kid didn’t find any excuses. He went through it all with his head up high. I have always thought there must be something that he wanted to achieve, a goal that he is pursuing that keeps him going. Since his freshman year Domanique always wanted to make it to the varsity squad, even though the varsity boys were 2 times bigger, faster, and stronger than him. It didn’t matter. He still wanted to make the Varsity team. He went through all 4 years on the junior varsity without any complaints. Head Coach Kelvin Etkie feels that any boy who works hard deserves to play. Kelvin’s motto for this year was “players who

work hard beat players with talent who don’t work hard”. He decided to let Domanique play a varsity game. So the week of October 28, 2010 was his chance to practice with the Varsity and play in their game. The night before the game we usually give the Va r s i t y players their game jersey to wear the next day during school. When Domanique got his, he was so quiet. He looked at the jersey and looked up at me and smiled. That’s when I started to wonder. For me a football jersey was just a shirt. Then he showed me ”That Jersey” was all he had worked hard for. A lot of the boys just took the jersey and walked away like it was taken for granted, but not Domanique! He savored every moment of wearing it and his eyes beamed with pride. I was awestruck about how he felt about the jersey and it still makes

m e wonder why all the other players don’t feel the same way? If every player on the Varsity team felt the same way as he did, we would have an even more outstanding football team! This is the lesson that I learned from him and that I will make sure to teach other kids. It’s not about who is better or who makes it to the Varsity team. It’s about wearing the jersey with pride and representing Texas School for the Deaf as a Ranger!

Latino Conference By Wilmonda McDewitt


aura Hane, Hispanic Club Sponsor and the TSD Hispanic Club members had the opportunity to attend the Texas Latino Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Conference held in Corpus Christi, Texas on October 15th and 16th. The students liked the whole conference but especially enjoyed two workshops, “Keeping the Promise” presented by Delia Lozano-Martinez and “Leadership From Within” presented by Melissa Draganac-Hawk. The students learned about different leadership styles and got to mingle with the over 100 deaf Hispanics that attended the conference. Our students had enriching experience from meeting all of the deaf Hispanic role models and were able to make life long friends. In a footnote, everyone loved The Hispanic Club Ranger shirts!!!

Jonathan Franco, Bambi Sifutenes, Rigoberto Vieyra, Laura Hane (Hispanic Club Sponsor), Marivel Holguin, Gabriel Trujillo and Lillyana Padilla.

Journal of the Texas School for the Deaf  19

Tex a s s c h o o l for the

Deaf f o u nDaTi o n Funding the Future Now

Foundation Focus:

How We’ll Get There

 Technology

 Grants

 Outreach

 Events

 0-3 Program

 Car Donation Program


 Corporate Partnerships

 Teachers, Teachers, Teachers!

 Generous Donors like YOU!!

Lone Star Summer/Fall 2010  

V O L U M E 1 3 1 , N o . 3S u m m e r / F a l l 2 0 1 0( I S S N 0 8 9 3 - 2 9 6 4 )