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Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf:


Neil Genco
Sept. 8, 2012

 

 

Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf


     It all started about 150 years ago on September 26th, 1853 when a society was formed to aid and educate people who were Deaf. The society was known back then as "LeCouteulx St. Mary's Benevolent Society for the Deaf and Dumb." Little did they know back then, what an impact their society would have on so many individuals.

     The school would have never been possible without help from one of the trustees of the society -- Louis LeCouteulx de Caumont donated to Bishop Timon one acre of land in the city of Buffalo. LeCouteulx de Caumont donated the acre of land for the sole purpose it being used as a location to establish an institution which would educate people who were Deaf. The education program at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf started with only four girls and a few boys.

     In order for the education program to grow, Bishop Timon sent Sister Mary Anne Burke to receive specialized training in different methods which were being used to teach the Deaf. The training took place in Philadelphia at the Mt. Airy State Institute for the Deaf in the year 1861. Sister Burke brought back different teaching methods such as the combined method which included the use of signs, fingerspelling, and speech. By implementing such methods Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf transitioned itself to be more attractive to potential students because it was up to date with the contemporary teaching methods being used around the country. Sister Burke became Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf principal in 1863. Over the next couple of decades there were several additions to the property -- expanding the campus of St. Mary’s and the student body grew to eleven students. Then in 1873, Mother Mary Anne Burke obtained state aid for all students attending Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf over the age of twelve. Students that were under the age of twelve were provided aid by the local county. This was a huge financial turning point for the institution which allowed the school to purchase the current site of Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf located on Main Street at Dewey in the city of Buffalo, New York in the year 1883.

     In 1898 the main building that currently occupies students today was dedicated to St. Mary’s School for the Deaf by Bishop Quigley. By January of the New Year 1899 Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf had increased its total student population to 77 boys and 75 girls who came from all different surrounding areas. The main building was the rock that has helped Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf grow and educate the numerous Deaf students over the course of its 158 years of existence.

     Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf has provided an alumni association, several sports teams, a teacher’s prep program with Canisius College, a recreational park, a summer home for orphans, summer camps for youth, and an everlasting impact on the lives of the Deaf and hard of hearing.

     One aspect of Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf that may have facilitated the school's success and wide-reaching impact is its educational philosophy of total communication. Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf supports all methods of communication with its students through amplification, hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive technology, speech and auditory training, sign language, speech reading, voice and spoken English, written English, and visual imagery.

     The school's mission statement reads “Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf is committed to providing equitable access to exemplary educational programs that prepare Deaf students to be self directed, lifelong learners, who are productive members of society. Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf continues today to leave its mark on the lives of many and has given the right of equality in education to the Deaf community for 158 years. Saint Mary’s School for the Deaf is looked to as a model of success for others and will continue to lead others in Deaf education for years to come.

References:
http://www.smsdk12.org/

 


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