Bridging hearing gaps across the district

For Sandy Peatrowsky, a deaf/hard of hearing itinerant teacher, no day looks the same. She visits up to five schools per day to work with an average of 16 students per week across most grade levels, catering lesson plans and activities to each individual’s needs. 

During her visits, communication is a regular theme, whether it be related to vocabulary, auditory memory, or self-advocacy. 

“For a student who does not have hearing aids or hearing loss, they will hear a word 100 times, but my student might only hear it 50 times,” Peatrowsky said. “We do a lot of work so that when they hear something, they’ll be able to remember it more easily and keep up with their peers.”

In her 10 years of teaching at Dallas ISD, Peatrowsky said she has enjoyed building relationships with her students and their families. Those connections are so positive that she will get calls from them even after they graduate from her roster because they recognize her expertise. 

“I had one student who went to high school and had no schedule,” Peatrowsky said. “He didn’t know what to do, so he contacted me because he knew that I could put him in touch with the people that could fix that.”

She said she also enjoys seeing the daily transformations that her students experience. For example, one student who has multiple disabilities recently received a donated iPad, which gave her access to activities she was not physically able to do otherwise. Peatrowsky watched the student take charge and begin making requests overnight.

“She is amazing and just so bright,” Peatrowsky said. “The iPads given by a school cannot go home with students, but this one was donated, so it goes home with her and comes back. They can use it on the bus, and it has been so much fun to see her engaging more. Being able to do that for her has been awesome.”

While finding individual solutions can be difficult, Peatrowsky said she appreciates the endless opportunities to solve problems that her job brings. Over the years, her students and peers have come to know her not only for her commitment to student success, but also for her positivity and creativity. 

“Since my work is mostly one on one, I get to really focus on what that child’s gaps are because of their hearing loss and figure out how we are going to close those gaps while still having fun,” Peatrowsky said. “I work with the best people, and I love my students, so that makes it really easy to be positive and look forward to my job.” 

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