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SOUND EDUCTION

The Jackson Heights-based Lexington School for the Deaf/Center for the Deaf strives to help students reach their potential and also provides support once they have graduated.
Founded in 1864, the school has been in Jackson Heights, at 30th Avenue and 75th Street, since 1968. It currently has a student population of 340 and follows the New York State curriculum.
Superintendent Gina Carroll said that to be in the school students have to be “profoundly deaf or functioning as profoundly deaf.”
“Our overall mission…is to provide an educational program in an environment that provides full access to our students to all information,” Carroll explained. “We believe that all children can learn and it’s our mission to develop students to their potential, academically and socially.”
Carroll said that, for most students, sign language is combined with spoken language. She also explained that all the educators know how to sign so there is direct education, rather than having to work through an interpreter.
For most classes, there is one teacher and one assistant for every eight students. However, it is one teacher and two assistants for every six students in special education classes and could be one on one for students in related services.
One thing that Carroll thinks sets Lexington apart from other schools is the attention paid to visual information. She explained that the school’s “whole environment is geared towards being accessible to deaf students.” Carroll also noted that the school provides programs for students “who are deaf but of all abilities.”
“Depending on individual student needs we will make adaptations to the programs,” she said.
Lexington CEO Manny Mosquera said that he thinks one of the school’s biggest strengths is that there are many employees who have been there at least 15 years, if not 25 or 30.
“That kind of retention rate, it speaks to the morale and the group that we have,” he said.
In addition to having programs by age, Lexington offers a foreign language transitional program. Some of the students may not know English or English sign language. After learning the language, they are eventually transitioned into the academic program.
“Being in Queens, we have students who arrive from all over the world,” Carroll said.
The school also offers many extracurricular programs for its students, including competitive and non-competitive sports, interest and academic-oriented clubs, and an academic intervention program.
Carroll said that the goal of Lexington is to provide students with choices for the future, whether they are interested in going to college or working.
“The more they develop their academic language and literacy skills but also their communication skills in various modalities, it’s possible that they’ll have more options,” she said.
In addition to the school, Lexington also has on-site affiliates, such as the Lexington Center for Mental Health Services, Lexington Vocational Services Center, and Lexington Hearing and Speech Center.
Executive director of affiliates Adele Agin explained that through its vocational services it helps place deaf individuals in jobs, including doing interview prep, going on interviews and interpreting. She also said members of the organization go on the jobs with the person as they train and eventually phase out but remain available to both the employee and employer. Agin said they have had “wonderful success” with the program.
She also explained that, through the Hearing and Speech Center, they use the newest technology to test hearing and are also experts in hearing conservation.
Mosquera said that his vision for Lexington’s future involves building on its “long history.”
“We are by far one of the biggest schools in the New York State area. We offer leading edge teaching methodologies. We spend every time we can on technology that helps our children,” he said. “I want to be the premiere school for the deaf community…”
For more information on the Lexington School for the Deaf, including making monetary donations or becoming a business partner, visit www.lexnyc.com or call 718-350-3300.

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