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Making the Turn

As Helen Keller once said, “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… Unless you fail to make the turn.” Through recent investments, Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) is ensuring that its students not only make the turn but continue along the road into their limitless futures. One way ASD is investing in its students is by renovating all 31,215 square feet of Graves Hall. This $3.9 million investment into our students and Talladega ensures that students continue to have a state-of-the-art facility in which to learn.

Re-opening this fall, Graves Hall will be the home of ASD’s Elementary Department. The first floor will accommodate a residential community for students living on campus while the second floor will be reserved for academics. The renovated academic space will include 14 classrooms and a STEM room where students will participate in hands-on learning activities and hone their computer science skills. The space will also include an American Sign Language (ASL) Center that will promote bilingualism in ASD’s youngest students. There will also be an auditorium and dedicated spaces for speech therapy, school counseling, and behavioral specialists.

“Everything has changed,” said Delvetra Calvin, Elementary Department Director. “Graves Hall has new paint, new tiles, new curtains, new chairs, and new desks. Every time I go into the building, I’m able to smell the scent of a new building and I know that  our students will enjoy  being in the new space.”

Investing in the Future through STEAM

This spring ASD hosted its annual STEAM Day to showcase the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. Through combining science and art, students learned about physics by creating pendulum art and computer design by designing custom pieces to print with 3D printers.

Throughout the day, students also participated in a variety of fun workshops and activities presented by partnering organizations. The National Technical Institute for the Deaf Regional STEM Center provided workshops for middle and high school students using remote control car kits and Bloxels, an app that allows students to build and play their own video games through coding. Their STEM Bus, Boomer, also visited campus, providing various coding and robotics activities. Deaf Kids Code, an organization promoting technology, computer science, and design thinking skills as an innovative tool to empower students, presented a littleBits to teach students coding through direct, hands-on play. The University of Alabama presented a workshop about using radar and ASL, while The University of Alabama in Huntsville presented a workshop about cybersecurity.

Ironworker Skills

Ironworker Skills Institute (ISI), founded in 2016 by John Garrison, owner and operator of Garrison Steel, is an accredited training and education facility that incorporates the hands-on and industry learning needed for students to be successful in the industry. In addition to ironworking, they also provide classes in welding, fall safety protection, and blueprint reading. Upon completion of their time at ISI, students have the opportunity to begin their career as an Ironworker with an average entry level salary between $50,000 and $75,000 per year. Every school year a select group of ASD high school students travels to nearby Pell City to participate in the ISI training program for a little over two hours each school day. Addison Taylor, an ASD student, is set to complete his Structural Ironworking Three certification over the summer where he will learn the techniques used to plug, align, and guy steel structures.

Through innovative programs and investing in its students, ASD ensures that all students are prepared for anywhere their road of life takes them. Whether preparing for middle school or preparing for their career, our students will be ready to be limitless.