As what happens to many foreigners moving to San Miguel de Allende, Linda and Ron Felton were approached nearly 11 years ago by several NGO’s to olunteer time to the community. Because of their experience of more over 30 years as special educators, they found themselves out in a small school in a rural community working with a young deaf girl. This 14 year old girl was, as she had for many years, sitting in a regular classroom in her community dutifully copying, in impeccable handwriting, notes from the blackboard – copying information she barely understood.
She had been instructed for years by teachers who could not easily communicate with her. The only sign language she knew and used with her friends and family were “home signs” – an informal system of communication usually developed in a family with a deaf child. Some of her friends in school had learned some of her signs and could help her try to understand what was going on in school.
Sadly this had been the state of educational services for deaf youngsters in San Miguel de Allende and in much of Guanajuato. Subsequently, Ron had the good fortune of meeting San Miguel de Allende Midday Rotarian, John Doherty, who was well aware of the challenges facing deaf young people in our community. Encouraged by a number of parents of deaf children, John set out to start a school that would provide a real education to these students. After much planning and John’s tireless fundraising and overall management, the school, Escuela de Education Especial de San Miguel de Allende opened its doors on September 3, 2012.
The school originally opened with six students and had, for the past school year, 23 pre
school to adult students enrolled. The school features academic instruction that includes Spanish, Mexican Sign Language (LSM), basic academics and advanced prepatoria classes. Additionally the school has developed, with the help of many wonderful volunteers, a vocational training programs that have allowed some students to obtain paid outside employment.
The school has been supported over the years by 13 Rotary Clubs in Mexico (Midday), Canada and the US. It has also received a substantial grant from the Rotary Foundation. About 30-40% of the funds for the schools operation comes from Rotary Clubs while the rest come from fundraising activities, church groups, charitable foundations and private donors.
Ron Felton will speak to the Midday Rotary Club on August 21 about the school and the amazing growth that has been occurred since it opened and how that has changed the lives of these students. Please join us Tuesday, August 21st at 12:30 PM at the Hotel Mission on Salida a Querétaro. Parking is free and the hotel is easily accessible by bus.
Rotary is where neighbors, friends and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders and take action to create lasting change. For more information, contact President Ivar Schacke at [email protected] or see RotarySMAMidday.org.
Escuela de Education Especial de San Miguel de Allende
- Date, time: Tuesday, August 21st 2018, 12:30pm
- Where: Hotel Mission
- Address: Salida a Queretaro 1
- Cost: Free
By: Skip Essick