When you look down the halls, the Mississippi School for the Deaf seems like any other school. Drive past the school, and many of the younger students are out flying kites, just like other children do.
In many ways this school is, in fact, just like every other school in Mississippi. Then you walk into the classrooms, and that's when you see that things are a little different.
"Here they receive a bilingual education. Access to English through American Sign Language. Access to the curriculum and its objectives and content through American Sign Language," said Sandra Edwards, principal.
Mississippi School for the Deaf teaches in ways most public schools are not capable, so that deaf students across Mississippi can get the same quality education available to hearing students.
"MSD has a very rich history. It was founded in 1854 by the state legislature, founded specifically to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing students across the state," said Edwards. "MSD's history with me, in particular, is it's a very precious place to me. My dad graduated in 1961from this school."
MSD teaches students with varying degrees of hearing loss. The School for the Deaf does teach American Sign Language, but it also teaches other subjects using American Sign Language. In fact, MSD teaches the same curriculum as every other school in the state.
"We are here to meet their very specific linguistic needs as well as support services for them," said Edwards. "We provide the general curriculum, Pre-K through twelfth grade. We are required to take the exact same state test as they do in the public schools," Edwards said.
MSD has the extracurricular activities, too, including athletics, senior prom, and events like field day and kite day.
In Part 2, we'll show how the School for the Deaf teaches children how to read and write.