San Miguel School for Special Education
There are no publicly funded schools for deaf children in the State of Guanajuato, Mexico. If the parent of a deaf child wishes to send their child to school they have no option but to send them to languish, virtually untaught, in a public school classroom with hearing students and with no special instruction whatsoever.
Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende, A.C. (San Miguel School for Special Education) opened its doors on September 3, 2012 to assist these children. A group of seven dedicated local residents and professionals, who had a special interest in helping deaf students in the community, came together to form the board of trustees, have the non-profit society registered, rent and renovate suitable premises, hire three Mexican teachers and reach out into the community to bring deaf Mexican youngsters together to improve their standard of education.
The most important and vital program of EEESMA is to provide an academic education to young Deaf children in San Miguel de Allende. They offer preschool through high school classes in a bilingual model of Mexican Sign Language and written Spanish. Scientific evidence proves that a child introduced to language (or sign language) at a young age, two years or younger, has a much better chance to succeed academically, making learning to read and write in primary school far more attainable.
Another challenge that EEESMA faces is the employability of students after they graduate from school. With the future in mind, they have developed the following programs so that the students are equipped with practical skills they can utilize in future work environments:
- Job skills training
- Entrepreneurship classes
- Communication coaching
- Transitioning to the workplace
In 2019, for the first time, three young women completed their on-line high school classes. This was a huge milestone for EEESMA, providing first hand, role models to other young people who are deaf. They can now witness their fellow students’ success and be inspired by it, working hard to achieve that same success, and perhaps even more. Families of the students contribute a small amount each month toward the school’s operation however the majority of funds are received through grants, donations and fundraising.
Since 2015 Southtowne Rotary has provided support through grant money that has been used to help train teachers and purchase books, supplies and sewing machines for their vocational training program. When Southtowne Rotarians visited the school in January, 2020 members were able to spend a day with the students in their vocational workshops including carpentry, jewelry making, sewing, and mural painting. A short course in sign language and eating lunch together helped us cement relationships that will continue to grow in the future!
In September of 2022, 3 new sewing machines (high level embroiderer, surger, and industrial sewing) were donated on behalf of Pat Buchanan at the Springs, who passed away in August 2022. With Nick Forrest’s’ help we sent them to Santa Barbara, where Donn Zellet picked them up and transported them in his van, down to San Miguel de Allende’s School for the Deaf that we have supported for the past 10 years.