Derby teacher helping change education for deaf and hard of hearing | Derby News

Molly Purhusin is fond of the deaf and hard of hearing, especially when it comes to education.

The $ 260 teacher for the deaf grew up in a home with deaf parents and says the lack of education they received “prompted me to want to make changes for future generations.”

Purhusin has been a teacher of special education in Derby schools for 15 years, the last seven years as a teacher for the deaf.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher for the deaf, but there is no program in Kansas, so I got a degree at Lincoln University in Nebraska,” Purhusin said.

Because she grew up with deaf parents, the first language of Purhusin is American Sign Language (ASL) and the second is English.

“I’m still struggling with English, but I taught English as a special education teacher in my first year in Derby,” she said, laughing, adding that “my brain said, ‘Well, that’s ironic.’

“If you’re not a native speaker, you’re learning a little differently,” she said. “I think I became a pretty good teacher because I was able to explain to the students how I studied English.”

Today, Purhusin works with deaf and hard of hearing students at Derby High School and the elementary schools of Wineteer, Stone Creek, Derby Hills, Tanglewood and Swaney.

Most students are enrolled in regular classes, and Purhusin uses a variety of techniques to individually “select a student wherever they are.”

More than 90 percent of the deaf and hard of hearing children she sees are born to hearing parents. The goal of the team, which includes parents and a speech therapist, is to make them speak and hear as best they can.

“When [students] they are struggling with math, English, social / emotional, grammar and even language, I am changing their curriculum to help the teacher make the assignment more suitable for deaf and hard of hearing students, ”Purjusin said.

“If much of the language they receive is auditory – for example, the teacher just speaks and reads – I can make it more visual with sign language or create something tactile or kinesthetic where they move their bodies,” she explained. . . “Hearing loss is the loss of the senses, so if you lose one sense, you can access speech by other senses.”

Pourhussin also helps teachers understand students ’needs – for example, not talking back to class when writing on the board.

“Some students have equipment, such as a small microphone, that will be worn by a teacher who amplifies their voice to match a student’s loss of frequency,” she said. While students hear the teacher, they don’t hear their classmates ask questions, “so I help teach the teacher to repeat all the children’s questions and answers”.

Pourhussin is also a sponsor of the Derby High School Sign Language Club, which includes both hearing and deaf and hard of hearing students. Club members raise money throughout the year – mostly working on concessions at high school football games – and use the money to sponsor Splash Sign Language Splash for deaf and hard of hearing Kansas students. The event, held at Madison Avenue Central Park in Derby on the Cinca de Mayo, will be the fourth year.

In addition to the classroom, Purhusin volunteered as a sign language interpreter in Wichita Churches serving the deaf, and is a freelance part-time translator for situations including courts, medical receptions, and hospitals.

As part of “this wonderful [deaf] community, ”Purhusin is one of the group that helps deaf and hard of hearing people when they need things like groceries or a trip to a meeting.

“We just like everyone to be okay,” she said.

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