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Just as she was helped, Lauer plans to teach deaf children

Posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 · Volume: XLIV · Issue: 25


Looking through old newsletters from Sunshine Cottage School for the Deaf are Cindy Lauer and Blane Trautwein, Ed.D. Lauer was Dr. Trautwein’s kindergarten student. Now she is a student in the Health Science Center’s Deaf Education and Hearing Science master’s degree program directed by Dr. Trautwein. Click on image for larger view.
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Looking through old newsletters from Sunshine Cottage School for the Deaf are Cindy Lauer and Blane Trautwein, Ed.D. Lauer was Dr. Trautwein’s kindergarten student. Now she is a student in the Health Science Center’s Deaf Education and Hearing Science master’s degree program directed by Dr. Trautwein. Click on image for larger view.clear graphic

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Contact: Will Sansom, 210-567-2579

SAN ANTONIO (Dec. 13, 2011) — Cindy Lauer first met Blane Trautwein, Ed.D., in 1991 when he was one of her teachers at the Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children. A small child of 5 at the time, she had been identified as hearing impaired at the age of 2½.

Today Dr. Trautwein is director of the Deaf Education and Hearing Science master’s degree program in the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. Lauer, now 25, is a student in the master’s degree program and a graduate assistant at Sunshine Cottage.

“I taught in a kindergarten classroom back then,” Dr. Trautwein said. “I remember Cindy was blonde with little wire glasses. We did a lot of plays, like Jack and the Beanstalk and The Gingerbread Boy. Now she is in our program. It is funny how life goes full circle.”

“I just remember he was my teacher and he was always excited,” Lauer said.

Bright student
Lauer and Dr. Trautwein had virtually no contact until she wrote him an e-mail saying she wanted to become a teacher for the deaf. For a long time, she said, she believed she couldn’t listen or speak well enough to teach others. “Cindy didn’t think she could be in this program (for the master’s degree) at first,” Dr. Trautwein said. “But she is very, very bright, and there have been great advancements in the field of deaf education and hearing science the last 20 years.”

Hearing technology
Lauer uses personal frequency modulation (FM) technology to hear in her courses and while student teaching. The course instructor wears a personal FM transmitter that sends sounds to a micro-receiver in her ear that distinguishes sounds. Lauer reads lips an estimated 80 percent of the time and uses the FM system mostly to localize sounds. It is not merely a hearing aid that amplifies, but also filters out distracting background noise.

A quarter-century ago, people were thrilled if a hearing-impaired child could hear the phone ring. Today children are able to distinguish the sound of running water from a distant bathroom, Cindy said.


In 1991, Cindy Lauer was a kindergartner in Blane Trautwein’s class at Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children. Trautwein is standing in the back row on the left and Lauer is in the front row on the right. Click on image for larger view.
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In 1991, Cindy Lauer was a kindergartner in Blane Trautwein’s class at Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children. Trautwein is standing in the back row on the left and Lauer is in the front row on the right. Click on image for larger view.clear graphic

 

Lauer was mainstreamed to public school for the first grade and at 17 graduated from Tom C. Clark High School. She earned her associate degree in education from San Antonio College and, this past spring, her bachelor’s degree in education from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She competed for and received an early acceptance to the Deaf Education and Hearing Science master’s degree program at the Health Science Center.

“Cindy earned a place in the class,” Dr. Trautwein said. “She entered the program based on the same criteria as everyone else, with grade point average and letters of recommendation.” Dr. Trautwein disavowed himself from the admissions decision to ensure objectivity.

Lauer is on track to graduate in May 2013. Her practice teaching consists of a full year working with a student in a language laboratory, two five-week sessions of student teaching and a 12-week rotation with an infant. “Since fifth grade it’s been my dream to teach at Sunshine Cottage,” she said.

Her career goal is to serve as an itinerant teacher in a school district, helping deaf or hearing-impaired children who are mainstreamed. She will assist with grammar or other issues and the overall process of getting acclimated. “Most large school districts have such a person,” she said.

Health Science Center program
The Deaf Education and Hearing Science program is part of the Department of Otolaryngology in the School of Medicine. Graduates of the program are prepared to teach children to listen and speak without relying on sign language. Dr. Trautwein was appointed program director in 2008 after 21 years at Sunshine Cottage. He was a teacher there from 1987 to 2000 and served as principal from 2000 to 2008.

In his fourth year at the Health Science Center, he has just been named one of the winners of the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching, to be bestowed early next year.

Overcoming obstacles
Lauer tenaciously overcame the obstacles to become an excellent student. At Clark she made a deal with her teachers that she would not wear FM technology unless her grades fell below 80. Only in Spanish class, with a whole new set of sounds, did that happen. She even played trumpet and mellophone, which is like a marching French horn, in the Clark band.

Now she is in a program that is considered a national training hub for deaf education teachers. Among last year’s graduates, 100 percent passed their state exam on the first try and 100 percent obtained employment in the field.

Lauer was a shy child who felt the gulf in communicating with others. For years she worked on English grammar. She remembers a teacher’s happy reaction the day she gained an understanding of idioms — figures of speech such as having “cold feet.” She wants to give these aha moments to today’s hearing-impaired youngsters. She knows that they too, with hard work and compassionate mentors, can overcome the self-doubt that accompanies hearing loss.

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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $228 million in fiscal year 2010. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $744 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.

 
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