McDaniel College

Posted on September 1, 2011

Teaching Teachers of the Deaf

McDaniel College, founded in 1867, is a private, independent, residential, liberal arts college whose mission is to “connect flexibly designed learning plans to global opportunities for engagement so graduates can successfully lead socially responsible lives and build a sustainable world.” Since 1982, the Newcombe Foundation has funded scholarships for Deaf graduate students enrolled in McDaniel College’s Deaf Education Program. The Foundation values and celebrates the College’s long-term commitment to supporting the needs of Deaf and hearing impaired students.

Deaf Education Program

McDaniel College’s Deaf Education Program was established in 1968 in conjunction with the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick, Maryland. As a result of the rubella epidemic during 1961-62, which left thousands of children deaf, teachers of the Deaf were urgently needed. The graduate program at McDaniel College was designed to meet this special need.

Since its inception, the Master of Science Degree Program in Deaf Education, the largest in North America, has built on its mission to prepare outstanding teachers of Deaf students. Philosophically, the program views students from a bilingual perspective. For graduates, that translates into a genuine acceptance of and respect for the language and culture of Deaf people, as well as a driving commitment to provide students with experiences that encourage literacy development and academic achievement. Students in the Master of Science Program in Deaf Education are an energetic community of individuals pursuing teaching credentials for Deaf students at elementary or secondary levels.

The Deaf Education Program benefits from national and international recognition as one of the most successful training programs in the world for teachers of the Deaf. It is also one of the few bilingual programs in the country for preparing teachers of Deaf and hearing impaired students.

Dr. Mark Rust has been the Coordinator of the Deaf Education Program since 2003. He describes the relevance of the Program: “As we near the two hundredth anniversary of Deaf Education, we find the profession still changing. We embrace change as it allows us to examine both where we have been and where we are going. The McDaniel College Deaf Education Program offers the best of what has worked in the past combined with the best practices the profession has to offer today, which allows students to foresee the possibilities of what tomorrow will bring.”

Dr. Mark Rust
Dr. Mark Rust speaks about the bilingual philosophy of McDaniel’s Deaf Education program.

McDaniel College’s Deaf Education Program was the first graduate program in the nation to have Deaf students participating in it. Today, eighty percent of the graduate students in this program are Deaf compared to the majority of programs around the country where the percentage is between one percent and seven percent.

In addition, this program graduates more Deaf candidates in Deaf Education than any other program in the country. Estimates indicate that McDaniel College may have prepared as many as eighty percent of the Deaf teachers working with Deaf and hearing impaired students.

There are currently ninety graduate students pursuing a Master of Science Degree in Deaf Education.

The Program holds full accreditation from the Council of Educators of the Deaf, the Maryland State Department of Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

The Deaf Education Program:

  • Provides a bilingual experience in a sizable and diverse community that remains small enough to allow close learning relationships.
  • Requires and reinforces ASL fluency. All classes are taught in ASL.
  • Balances full-time faculty with adjunct instructors who draw course content from best practices in the field.
  • Offers Elementary/Secondary certification for teachers of Deaf students, as well as ASL Specialist and Literacy Specialist programs.
  • Expands career and learning opportunities through internships in premier bilingual programs across the United States and Canada.

Graduates of the Deaf Education Program serve as teachers of Deaf students, ASL Specialists, and Literacy Specialists in elementary and secondary schools in the United States and Canada.

McDaniel Students and staff
Students Jessica Novak, Brett Grayson, and David Day joined with McDaniel staff Dr. Eddy Laird, Dr. Henry Reiff, Dr. Janet Conley, and Dr. Mark Rust to host a visit by Newcombe Foundation staff.

McDaniel College also offers an undergraduate minor in ASL/Deaf Studies, which was established in 2000. The ASL/Deaf Studies minor offers a variety of courses related to the language, culture and literature of Deaf people in the United States and Canada, as well as a glimpse at international perspectives in the field. This program includes various opportunities for immersion in the language and culture of Deaf people, including an option to be a visiting student for a semester at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., or to reside in the ASL House for a full year on McDaniel’s campus, as well as a January term internship in an ASL environment. The ASL/Deaf Studies minor provides a critical foundation for the graduate degree and includes courses that satisfy prerequisites for Deaf Education. There are currently 186 students studying ASL and fourteen students enrolled in content classes, such as ASL Linguistics and Educational and Life Experiences of the Deaf. Students are enrolling in ASL courses in record numbers at McDaniel College. The ASL faculty is now educating eighteen percent of the students taking courses in foreign languages; this makes ASL second only to Spanish.

McDaniel College has a well-equipped ASL Lab, complete with LCDs, Mac Power Book Computers, digital camcorders, a DVD recorder/player/VCR and SmartBoard technology. SmartBoard technology enhances the learning environment by providing a highly visual medium for carefully constructed lessons. Both graduate and undergraduate students benefit from the ASL lab. The lab is used by graduate students to develop and produce ASL materials for use in elementary and secondary schools. It is also used by students enrolled in the Deaf Studies courses to enhance their knowledge of ASL. The state of the art technology allows the Deaf Education Program to remain visual in its instructional approaches by making materials accessible to all learners. The lab provides one-on-one and small group tutoring as well as targeted skill workshops.

McDaniel College recently conducted its second “Silent Weekend” in conjunction with a consortium of colleges comprised of Anne Arundel Community College, Community College of Baltimore County, Frederick Community College, Gallaudet University, Howard Community College, Montgomery Community College and Towson University. A total of forty-five students participated in the weekend, which was held at a YMCA camp near Annapolis. The event included workshops in ASL, as well as horseback riding and paintball games. The weekend was conducted entirely in silence, with students using their ASL skills to converse. The consortium plans on making this an annual event.

As part of the McDaniel Plan, the College’s undergraduate liberal arts curriculum, all undergraduate students must take at least one January Term course. The Deaf Education Program conducts a January Term trip to the Dominican Republic, where undergraduate and graduate candidates are involved in providing lessons to Deaf students at several of the Deaf schools in and around the capital area of Santo Domingo. This provides an opportunity for undergraduate students to experience the educational setting of Deaf students in another country, while providing a wonderful teaching practicum for the graduate students.

McDaniel College is extremely proud of the accomplishments of two of its alumni. Michelle Shearer, the 2011 National and Maryland Teacher of the Year, earned her Master of Science degree in Deaf Education from the College. Ms. Shearer is fluent in ASL and also taught at the Maryland School for the Deaf. David Martin, McDaniel College alumnus and adjunct professor, was named 2011 Teacher of the Year by the American Sign Language Teachers Association.

McDaniel College is very proud of the Deaf Education Program and its accomplishments. With the generous help of supporters like the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, Deaf students will continue to achieve their highest dreams and aspirations. For more information about McDaniel’s Deaf Education program, please refer to their website.

Spotlight on Students

Click here for bios and photos of three McDaniel Deaf Education students.