Monday, March 26, 2007

Surrogate Parents

It is known that children develop very well when these kids receive quality education and then continue learning with their parents and families. Parents and siblings read stories, do other "educational" activities at home. Jay Krieger would like to draw your attention to many other kids who have to reside at schools. The residential staff have to assume the role as surrogate parents and foster residential kids learning at "home".

Note to Canadians: Notice the shirt? I bought it in Canada during my bike trip around Lake Superior with my two other buddies (ABC and a friend).

Note to the rest of you non-bikers AND DAVID MARTIN, have a taste of open road -- check here Jay and ABC hit the road!


IamMine said...

What about asking some volunteers from the Deaf Community?

Ask for a little of their time on a specific time they decide to volunteer on their time?

I'm sure this wasn't an original thought...but was curious what the responses were since I've never heard of that offering for residential students.

Susan said...

Never thought about residental children missing out on after-school natural language-building activities. Thanks for bringing it up...

Perhaps it should be Deaf schools' responsibility to follow up on these children, by organising trustworthy ASL people to spend after-school time with them?

I agree with IamMine, volunteers from the Deaf Community can apply through the school?

michele said...

Hi jay! I wish i could own motorcycle myself! Haha! Maybe when i retire, i can buy one, how much do they cost? Do they have custom designed motorcycles for women or not? Just wondering! Does your sister have one?

Anyway, besides this point, i thought deaf schools do not encourage the practice of children staying there, but instead encourage them to go home after schools. And then when they enter their teens, they can decide if they want to sleep in the dorms. I personally believe its better for deaf child to go home after school to develop and continue their family relations until they are in their teens.

Dennis said...

Jay, you have the good points to bring up. I know my deaf school used to have many deaf Residental Advisor or Houseparent in past times but as today, I notice more less deaf RA in Deaf School Dormority. If more deaf RA, they have better exposures of ASL to kids. Most of them, who left, said that the salaries were the most problem. I don't know. I used to be RA there but I got my better pay in other job that not related to deaf job. If Deaf School give the better salary, it could be a different story, what do you think?


Wacky Taz said...

Out of curiousity.....does those "housekeepers"/RA undergo some sort of courses aimed to serve as a "surrogate parent" to the children. Is there a job requirement for those employees to possess before they could do their duties around deaf children?

Anonymous said...

i used to work in school dorm years ago... i used to supervise 15+ kids sometimes alone or with another counselor on some nights. i would never have time for giving undivided time with everyone. i had few kids with behavior problems that required constant supervision. adm would not allow any volunteers and even older students in the dorm due to some issues. with stress,poor pay and little support from administration so i quit. it would be great to be able to read with kids if....

David said...

Hi Jay,

Your shirt is cool!

Here is


Anonymous said...


Where did you get that shirt?? I'm a Canadian myself...

I love your Vlogs, they are awesome!!!

Thanks for supporting use wink wink

S. (Ontario,Canada)

LaRonda said...

Jay, nice vlog.

I wanted to toss out a comment. When I was working as a School Counselor (mental health) at a deaf residential school, I often had to work with residential staff who supervised the students there.

I know what you are describing of the tremendous and job they have with the students they care for during the week. Sadly, many lack training in child development, reflective listening, and positive parenting skills that would make the lives of many students much better. Don't get me wrong, there are many outstanding and qualified individuals working with the children in the dorms. But I did encounter some who definitely needed some support and training.

The problem I encountered though, when I offered workshops and training in those areas, was resistance or defensiveness. There was a perception that because i was giving them training that I perceived them as "broken." There were some who had a hard time viewing this as enhancing skills or professional development. Sigh...

I also had difficulty making suggestions to residential staff about how to deal with certain behaviors in specific students. The dorms had their own level system in which all students were treated the same. Unfortunately, this level system did not work for all children.

In a family with more than 1 child, a parent learns that even though they try to be fair, they sometimes have to modify rules to meet the individual child's need. Kids don't always like this, but when their siblings behave better, they tend to back up a little and give some slack.

In my opinion, I believe that residential staff are as important to the deaf students as their teachers are. I believe they should also work closely with the student's parents in areas of guidance and positive discipline. This can be a challenge when the dorms have one standard of rules for all students.

~ LaRonda

Anonymous said...

Canadian eh!
I m from Vancouver BC Canada.
I know there is a residential program in Vancouver Canada. Their program offers reading club, bedtime story telling, spelling, vocabulary words (labels all over the walls) and many others.
They have very large number of deaf staff approx 75 percent. The kids are lucky to be there at the residential program and attend deaf school...many kids dont have asl enviornment at home and lack of exposures from parents. I feel good about their kids getting exposures (incident learing) from their staff. Residential program do impact on kids...with problem solving, relationship, culture, education and communication. I can understand that some of you are not satisfied with the residential schools in the states...some good, some not. Remember children needs ASL envirnoment and keep up with their education as much as possible.

Anonymous said...

Here's my response.

IamMine said...

Hahaha, Carl.... :D thing we are being bombed with arm-wrestling contests… haha.

That sounds like a great idea – a reading room - and I hope I'm not being pessimist, but times have changed SO much, Carl.

Kids are just so darn apathetic and…almost as if they’re in a daze period. SO many kids are on medication, it’s surreal. They’ve got just about every label for anything they have or do… (“Your son wasn’t paying attention – so I recommend you have him checked for ADD to get the proper medicine if he needs them…”)

I’m not talking about just deaf children, but hearing children.

The system is far worse than our times, unless I’m in an isolated area (which is actually true since I live out in the boonies :-D ). Teachers not having enough support from parents, underpaid, and stress with students…thus, their attitudes reflect from the students. You could offer them “challenge conflict” concept (which is some BS they came up for this year instead of “troublemakers”, etc), but they would resort back to their old selves. Same is true of kids and their parents.

The morals have gone down, parents working two jobs or more and everyone’s just dang too tired, underpaid and the kids spoiled to rotten with stuff from their parents’ over limit credit cards.


We do not give our children everything, but the school system can do the damages – if the kids let it get to them.

My oldest is oh, so bright! I remember his kindergarten teacher was so shocked that he excelled in reading and math. He even understood the difference between they’re and their!!

Now? He’s just unmotivated and apathetic, failing just about every class for the last 3 years. And this little town is supposed to be the attraction of out of towners and offering one of the best educations...well, the elementary school does, but middle & high school…psh. Same for everywhere.

He just likes to stay home and play music…I have to literally push him outside to get some fresh air!! He has friends, yes…but he doesn’t go over their house… when I asked why not? Because of activities they are involved in that he fears of getting in trouble with (drugs, parties, etc).

We tried everything we could think of, including taking away music in an effort to motivate him, Carl. Like you said, learning has to come from within. He lost that.

It seems like the vibe in the air is bad…morale is down, pay sucks and little/no benefits, out of control kids, and parents in general either don’t care or too tired to keep up.

Oy, I do sound pessimist don’t I… it’s just hard when I see with my oldest son and can’t help but wondering if that’s what my other children will when they hit middle school too…

Eh…maybe if I drink some coffee, I won’t seem so depressed about our deaf and hearing children’s future. I’d love to see them having the best kind of education – and being able to communicate with each other freely – ASL!

But I’ll change that 180 degree (hopefully) – repeating what Jay has said… it takes a VILLAGE to raise a deaf child! I actually *live* in the village… hehehe. Just got to somehow figure out how to fix it myself, but yes with all the right people, resources and parents’ involvement, it CAN happen. :D

ASL Risen said...

Thank you Carl for your response!

Wow! Great plans! Jay, thanks for bringing up this issues!

Deaf Niches said...

Yes, there are many volunteers, but often they don't stay for the nights, for the children's bedtime. Often it is the RAs. ISD's elementary school RAs are in sore need of getting training, since they spend a lot of time ignoring the kids... the volunteers are more involved. Just my observation. I heard that the middle school and high school residential students often fare better.

I am really hoping the director of student life would read this blog. I think I will email to one person and ask her to forward it to him... hmmmm...

But it all comes down to money...resources. We can afford to provide activities, but love?

But then I am not an expert on this subject, but I have to say the RAs do need training on a periodic time.

Deaf Niches said...

I like Carl's response... DEAR (Drop Everything and Read). Something for ISD to ponder to add for elementary, middle and high school residential students...

Jay said...

All: Before I start, I do not know how our school at the younger ages do before they go bed, etc. Its possible that they already are doing that. It may not be fair for me to discuss this without knowing exactly what our school does, but I am speaking from my personal experience as I lived in the residential halls all my life in Fanwood and one year in PSD.

iammine: Deaf Niches is correct, oftentimes non-staff are not available, or are not able to come in due to the late hours.

michele: A new Harley is worth two Yugos, or two John's Kawasakis. However, they remain in value for a long time while others drop quickly.

wacky taz: Often RAs are "off the street" staff. We try our best to screen them out. However, there are some others who are Deaf and have alot of passion to work with our kids. I feel bad for them as they all are grossly underpaid. Thus high turnover.

David: thanks for the vcomment

Anonymous 10:51: Bought it in Thunder Bay, Ontario

LaRonda: Our administration at Student Life have made tremendeous process in training communication issues and strategies with all their staff. I hear great outcomes from that program.

Carl: Hey you got better muscles, chuckling. Our school does have D.E.A.R. and I see it often in the Education Division. I am not sure if our Student Life Division does D.E.A.R., but I would not be surprised if they did.

Carl & Iammine: We have a very nice Resource Center, full of computers, resources, and so forth. I know RAs do take kids to the library, I think after dinner (?) if they like to to browse magazines, newspapers, and our books.

I am very pleased with our Student Life Division. Their programs are champs. However, I am sure we need to be more sensitive to the "surrogate parents" to our younger children that may not be the same as they would have at their own homes.

Deaf Niches said...

Often the residential dorms are the ideal places for deaf children of hearing families, so that they'd be immersed in the ASL environment (social, cultural, acadmics.) There will always be some RAs who need to "go" and some awesome RAs which the dorm kids won't want to lose. Again, it all comes down to money and resources as usual... especially at the state schools. Not fair, I know.

Deaf Niches said...

iammine, why don't you create a vlog about what you said in your comment, about the changes in the child's attitude as the child gets hit by hormones, influences (music, two parents working, etc.)? It would make a good viewing and a good place for discussion, for the future of deaf children/teens? I am sure there are some deaf mothers who are pulling their hair out over their teenaged children now and could use some outlet, hmm?? And a good way to prepare deaf/hearing parents when their adorable children become "aliens" :-p.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jay!

Yea you're right.....I used to live in the boarding school when I was young. I realized that the teachers/houseparents did not discuss with us as a group about the books in the reading/library room after School or dinner. However, we picked on our own from the reading class and then teacher gave us a questionaire paper for us to fill out. So that way, we can get the points. Nevertheless, the teacher did not discuss the topics with me and others. I was only 6th-8th grade. How sad.

Now, my oldest daughter who is a KODA, will be in the honor program in English in the Middle School this coming Fall. I truly think that the reading program and speak two languages (english and ASL) have helped my daughter a great deal.

White Ghost

SDA said...

Just my two-cent here...

I'm a parent of a high school student at CSD (Fremont).

Yes, at CSD, we have library, study hall, DEAR program, etc. It's so easy for us to draw our attention to English literacy here.

But what about ASL literacy? This is what I'd like to focus here.

As an ASL teacher myself, I was called to give some workshops (about 8 years ago) at the Student Life Dept. I gave workshops on ASL storytelling (which is non-English based), Deaf-centered adaptations of English literatures, etc. The cottage counselors learned tips on how to introduce story, how to maintain attention, and such.
This is especially important for elementary program because some kids are so young and they have yet to become independent readers. They need somebody to re-tell stories from English to ASL. I am also a strong advocate for personal narratives or anecdotes. The kids need to become more global or be enlightened on how we "survive" over the years or such.

There are also some good videos/ DVDs with ASL stories, etc. (Check out DawnSignPress or other sources) The counselors can always pop them into the TV set and let the kids view them while at the dorms.

One other important thing to consider is - Open Communication policy. It means all staff members are to sign at all times in front of Deaf people's presence. Watching staff members converse in ASL, students will definitely learn something. The staff may be discussing current events or other issues from newspaper or the like.

We have nice and gentle reminders around the campus at CSD with signs posted at front of buildings saying "Thank you for signing." :-)

Anonymous said...

Some of these RAs don't sign well.

Sometimes I feel the residential kids are too much into themselves (too much time around peers)---not enough time spent with adults.

mule435 said...

Well any condtions of any parents / parents guardship.foster parents and adopter parents would be demanding to be resonsible to read boks or teach students etc and If far away home but they just miss wehere are their parents but still learn in some area. depend any students to be develop under the circumstone.

Everone should encourage all students to learn a lot of things

Jessica said...

I am trying to remember my dormitory experiences from back in 3rd grade and senior year. i don't recall much with the houseparents in 3rd grade. Pretty much they focused on getting us to do our chores, herding us to the cafeteria then send us to bed. I especially remember one with long nails always pinching at us as in trying to get our attention and to keep us moving on to the next thing.

As for my senior year, I do recall that the dorm staff did some kind of like enrichment activities with us but not very often. Maybe less than 5 times a year. One focused on something like table manners maybe.

I also worked on weekends in the elementary school dormitory helping the staff supervise the children.

Usually they hire dorm staff with no requirements for specific credentials. Pretty much "off the street". We usually didn't have great communication with many of them. There were a few such as the Deaf staff. Even many of them weren't very fluent in ASL either, especially the night staff and I knew them pretty well. I guess you can figure out that I used to be one of those kids that often got out of bed during the nights so I was no stranger to them.

But anyway, I think Jay's suggestion is a great idea but one concern I have is will they be willing to find the money to support this? With higher standards for qualifications, they will need to be paid more to match their qualifications, training, and skills. Just not too long ago we had a discussion here about money issues and schools closing.

Deaf Niches said...

Hey Jay, where are you? We the deafreaders miss you! ABC is back, and surely you are back from wherever you were and ISD is resuming its classes today :-)