At Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD), there’s as much going on after school as there is during school hours. And it’s all about learning. The ASD residential aspect is a major factor in helping our students learn how to respect themselves, their peers and their community. For some students, it’s the first time they’ve spent much time at all with people who are deaf or hard-of- hearing. They learn that they are just as able as anyone else. It may be the first time students have much contact with adults who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, too – so they begin to learn what they can dream about, what goals they can achieve.
In the process of all this learning, they are playing on the playground, swimming, skating, bowling, and participating in arts and crafts. They may be making a trip to the Hackney Play Therapy Center on the Helen Keller School campus, where they can crawl through tunnels and wiggle through obstacles or play in a big pit filled with brightly colored plastic balls. This Center is a physical therapy facility, but it’s so much fun going through the mazes and slides and playing in the ball pit, our youngest students go there just to play.
Positive peer groups meet to encourage students to work together. Outdoor gardening skills can be explored with a small group of friends. Big Brothers, Big Sisters are active on campus. Dorm activities include weight lifting and walking and informal talks on topics like social issues and jobs are available. A friendly competition between different dorms called “Dorm Wars” lets students collect points for grades and behavior to win big prizes and trophies after school. Each dorm celebrates birthdays and other special occasions. Dances, field trips and activities fill up the afternoons, with at least an hour every evening reserved for homework and study.
Clubs and activities build leadership skills and nurture the beginnings of lifelong friendships. The Space Explorers Club, Scouting for girls and boys, Junior National Association of the Deaf, Student Body Government, Junior Beta Club, Big Brother/Big Sister, Beta Club and class organizations address just about any interest a student might have.
Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) boasts two honor dorms where students can learn to be independent and prepare for life after graduation. The Jemison House for girls, built in 1898, and Grace Hall for boys, built in 1903, provide apartment-style living while still under the supervision of a dorm parent. Students must meet the criteria in the Student Handbook – a good attitude, appropriate behavior and a demonstration of leadership ability.
These beautiful facilities include complete apartments with a living area, kitchen, and bedrooms. Students even learn how to make a “deposit” for keys while participating in “Dorm Night” programs, menu planning, meal preparation and field trips. The residential program is a partner with our Career Tech staff in evaluating each student’s strengths and needs for independence. Staff can then help students “fill in the gaps” so they can live both successfully and productively.