FHSD Holds Tenth Annual Deaf Storyteller Day

Posted on 05/25/2017
Group Photo of Annual Deaf Storyteller Day

The Francis Howell School District (FHSD) believes that every child deserves the opportunity to learn and play in a safe environment, including those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Some students were born without the gift of hearing, and some have lost it over time. But all of these students get to live and learn like every other kid, thanks to the support of many great special educators in FHSD. There are days intended specifically for these students, and Deaf Storyteller Day is one such day, one that solicits a vivid reminder of why we’re here.

At Deaf Storyteller Day, held at Jungs Station Baptist Church in St. Charles, Deaf students got together to socialize, participate in activities, and enjoy a storyteller who is Hard of Hearing like them. “This day is an amazing opportunity for these kids to connect with current and new friends who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing,” said Amy Cattron, the parent of Keagan Cattron, who attended the event with her son. “Keagan looks forward to it all year long, and can’t wait to share his experience with others. It gives him the confidence to go back to his class and discuss his hearing with his hearing classmates, raising awareness and understanding.”

“I like the Deaf Storyteller Day because the storytellers are funny,” said Heaven, a student at Becky-David Elementary. “At school, I read or write, but at the Deaf Storyteller, we use the sign language. It (sign language) is easier to understand.”

Heaven isn’t alone. Aja, who also goes to Becky-David, had her first experience with Deaf Storyteller Day this year, and she could barely contain her excitement. She said she wanted to go “because I can have fun and play games, and we can have signing. Very, very fun!”

One of the games was a variation of the classic Hungry-Hungry Hippos. Tony, another Becky-David student, said, “On the last game, the Hungry Hippos, we needed to collect balls like they were our apples that we were going eat. We had a scooter and a basket to get the ball. It was easy for me, and my favorite game.”

Current and even former students relish the opportunity. LaWanda Brewer, one of the organizers of this event, said, “I receive calls from individuals who want to participate or bring their hearing children for more interaction with the Deaf and Deaf culture.”

Crom Saunders telling a story to students.This year's Deaf Storyteller was Crom Saunders, whose incredible energy and hilarious pantomiming makes his imagination come alive in vivid colors, giving his stories resonance without the use of words. With the use of a little American Sign Language (ASL), and a lot of funny gestures and body language, Saunders brought new life to old fairytales such as “Cinderella,” and even the old Irish tale of “Finn Mac Cool” (also known as “Fionn mac Cumhaill”).

This event is made possible through the St. Louis Storytelling Festival, which is an endeavor of the MU Extension. Brewer said, “FHSD is the only site to host the Deaf storyteller for two years in a row. The Festival is paying for the speaker’s flight, hotel, and transportation, as well as his speaker fee. They locate the storyteller and plan for all of that. Without them, FHSD would not be able to bring in such quality Deaf tellers from around the nation.”

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