Rotarians Discuss Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf
(Left-Right) Rotarian Steve Bragin; Rich Engwall, President of Montessori School for the Deaf; Ann Kerr, President, Rotary Club of Clearwater: "The deaf need to be taught how to read, use the American Sign Language system, and be able to communicate with the hearing who speak English."
Rotarian Steve Bragin introduced Richard Engwall, President of Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf, at a recent Wednesday noon meeting of the Rotary Club of Clearwater at Belleair Country Club. Engwall said that Blossom Montessori teaches students to prepare to study and live in the adult world, to be able to read and to communicate easily with those with normal hearing.
Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf is one of only two Montessori schools for the deaf in the country. Blossom is noted as a model for teaching children who are deaf, hard of hearing, and also hearing children who have parents or siblings that are deaf. Classes are taught by spoken English, American Sign Language and explored by visual and tactile senses. A recent highlight of the school was to be recognized and visited by members of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, as well as Dr. I. King Jordan, the first deaf President of Gallaudet University.
Engwall stated that many parents originate their own sign language for family use, but this does not allow the deaf to communicate with anyone else. Blossom teaches the American Sign Language system, and also helps the deaf to understand those speaking in English. The student learns to function in a hearing world. Engwall related that Tampa Bay has an exceptionally large population of deaf people. Many deaf people who do not have the advantage of proper schooling, at age 18 are reading only at 3rd grade level, and have great difficulty communicating with the hearing. Education is mandatory if the deaf are to become independent and self-supporting. Engwall described how a nine-year-old girl entered Blossom, unable to communicate. Later, at a Christmas program, an overjoyed parent saw her both signing, and singing. A former student is Captain of her College Basketball team and President of her Student Council.
Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf depends upon public support for student scholarships, classroom materials, and technology, and for added support services for the children. Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf is located at 14088 Icot Blvd., Clearwater.
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