Lyon College partnering with school to prepare educators to serve deaf students

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 10:45 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2023 at 10:46 PM CST
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BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - Lyon College and the Arkansas School for the Deaf are hoping a new licensure program will prepare educators to serve the deaf and hard of hearing.

The program, which was announced Saturday, Feb. 25, would provide certification for teachers to teach said students.

Gretchen Cobb, director of statewide services at the Arkansas School for the Deaf, said the program had been in the minds of those at the school, but they needed a partner in higher education.

A teacher at the school, who also attended Lyon College, pointed them towards the college, and they didn’t look back.

“The very next day, our superintendent called Lyon College, and in a couple of weeks, they came out, and we’ve been excited ever since,” Cobb said.

The program plans to start with a select group of individuals.

“The program right now is to have it be a like a certification. So, to be in the program, you already must have a teaching license and you already have to know sign language at an intermediate level,” Cobb said.

Four teachers from the Arkansas School for the Deaf will teach individual classes and group classes for the teachers.

Dr. Kim Crosby, director of teacher education at Lyon College, said every deaf and hard-of-hearing student would benefit from the program.

“Even though deaf and hard of hearing students are, that’s considered a low incidence and occurrence, low incidence doesn’t equal low importance,” she said.

The program will also be the only of its kind in Arkansas, giving the schools an opportunity to not only keep teachers in the state but to bring teachers outside of the state.

“We want to be competitive with other states and recruit from other states, so that we can say, ‘Hey, come here, and we’ll help you get this certification when you’re here,” Cobb said.

The program won’t just teach teachers for the Arkansas School for the Deaf, it wants to make sure the students who aren’t in Little Rock are also taken care of.

“This program is not only for the Arkansas School for the Deaf but also in the other school districts where deaf and hard of hearing students a being served,” Crosby said.

Cobb noted the goal would be to eventually change from a certification to a master’s degree program and to also include another group.

“We are also trying to tap into interpreters because there are a lot of interpreters that kind of go into both fields. They go into interpreting, but they’re also interested in education,” she said.

Both institutions are excited about the program, so much so that Dr. Crosby is already getting a head start in learning.

“It’s pretty much all I think about currently to the point that I’ve enrolled in an ASL course, and I intend to see that through,” she said.

The schools said the earliest the program may launch is Spring 2024.