The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf Gives ‘Special’ Zero Meaning

The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD)

In A Nutshell:

Provides educational services and a complete extracurricular program to Deaf and hard-of-hearing children from birth through Grade 12. Serving over 250 students from more than 100 school districts and 30 counties, WPSD is the largest comprehensive center for deaf education in Pennsylvania.

Why They Rock:

  • WPSD is Tuition-FREE to any deaf or hard-of-hearing student residing in Pennsylvania.
  • WPSD staff includes speech language pathologists, audiologists, a school psychologist, a communication teacher, an occupational/physical therapist, guidance counselors and an art therapist.
  • Video Production Studio: fully equipped professional quality studio includes a control room, an editing suite, and a video production classroom; also home of The WPSD News, a student-produced information program shown throughout campus and on their Website!

50Give Experience:

Lights, Camera, Sign-Language! The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf wowed 50Give with a full day of activities and provided our first interview in a professional TV studio executed by a talented staff: Deaf and hard-of-hearing students!

My organized contact Vicki gave a VIP hall-pass for 50Give which started with a tour on the beautiful 20 acre campus (luckily I wasn’t wearing my heels). First task was an interview with tough reporters (sharp high school students) under the smooth guidance of Brian, Amy, and a Sign-interrupter…immediately after the interview the students hustled to edit the piece just like a real news station for their lunchtime program played for the entire campus (they loved the throw-up story while volunteering in Brooklyn).

Next stop: Arts & Crafts with the joyful teacher Margijoe to create clothesline butterflies and I nominated myself Gluing Engineer (it is tough to dab tiny cotton balls), and her class give me an honorary Sign-Name: Letter K (Sign) with the index finger lightly starching the cheek. The class marched me to a complimentary school lunch – adult school lunch which included: a salad bar, red pepper soup, pork chops, dessert…I should have brought Tupperware!

Fully digested and chill Carrie put me on playground patrol assisting with safety and I became the Monkey Bar Director (I will keep granting titles until I fire myself). Back inside the classroom and I teamed up with get-in-line (sweet & direct) Mary for ‘Sink or Float’ science demonstrations, and helped easy-going Pauline with a cooking class that I co-led – we dominated chocolate/peanut butter chex-mix…lots of pointing for directions but the students acted as gourmet Sous Chefs making me look like Emerald!

Pittsburgh hospitality was Super Bowl Steeler style (no JV Pirates). Joanie and Bob, parents of my college soccer buddy ‘Benny the Blur’ provided warm home-cooked meals, motorcycle 101, cozy accommodations overlooking a tranquil forest, laundry facilities, coffee/breakfast set every morning; and Bob got me out the door on time for volunteerism…need to hire him as a co-pilot!

This journal entry is missing how ‘special’ the kids were and how awesome they are doing with a certain ‘condition’…all that is trivial because these kids are well-behaved, smart, and athletic STUDENTS. On this tour I only get a day with a non-profit, although I can read situations/people quickly (Mr. Vibe-Reader) and the STAFF are a huge reason the students are rocking…you have to speak Sign if employed at WPSD even if you have never Signed in your life – hug applause to the committed and ‘special’ staff!




“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Scott Hamilton

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