Joint Meeting Features Outstanding
Former RI Scholar
Jean Irwin, a 1989 Rotary International Scholar will present a program entitled "Taking Language from the Rich and Giving it to the Poor: A Rotary Scholar tells of her Scholarship to Nottingham."
Jean was raised in Stockton, California. She graduated from Fresno State in 1978 with her BA in Communicative Disorders and a specialist certificate to teach both the deaf and hearing impaired. She began teaching deaf children using the Signing Method in Vallejo, California, in the early 1980's.
After a move to Reno, Jean was asked to develop a program to teach deaf children to speak using the Oral Method, where Sign Language is not used. The program was begun with just 2 students and has developed into a program of 25, with 4 teachers.
Jean continues to work in the Oral Program of the Sashoe County School District in Reno, Nevada. She teaches deaf children from ages 6 through 19 by moving from an elementary school to a middle school and on to a high school each day. All students are mainstreamed into regular classrooms, where they are taught along side hearing peers, although they are profoundly deaf.
In 1989 Jean received a Rotary Foundation Scholarship that allowed her to be part of a deafness research team in Nottingham, England. The skills she picked up in this study have greatly enhanced the education of her students and allowed them to achieve levels of reading that far exceed the average level of 4th grade that deaf students typically reach upon graduation from high school. In Nottingham she learned how to take language from the rich and give it to the poor. While in Nottingham, Jean also obtained her Masters degree doing research into reading and deafness.
A tireless advocate for the deaf, Jean was the grassroots coordinator for a bill to make the testing of newborns mandatory before they leave the hospital. The bill passed two years ago in the last Nevada Legislative session.
Most recently Jean was name “Best of Education ” by her local newspaper , the Reno Gazette Journal.
Jean is the mother of Katy, 18, and Kent, 13.
Jean’s appearance will be before the Eastside Rotary clubs at the Meydenbauer center on Tuesday, July 22, at noon. Details for attending are available through Brian Evison or John Mix.