My name is Whitney Walston and I am a Deaf Ed masters student at Texas Woman’s University, currently in my second semester. I am deaf and I have been married for almost 5 years and I have a 3 1/2 year old son who I absolutely adore. I have a B.S. Degree in Geography with a minor in Geology. It was not until my last year of college that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in Deaf Education. I worked as a substitute teacher for Deaf Ed for a year and I realized that it was what I wanted to do instead of being in the environmental field, although being an environmentalist will always be a part of me.
Ideally, I would love to teach elementary Math and Science, but with Deaf Ed, that is not always possible. We have to be somewhat flexible in which grades/subjects we want to teach because there are only so many deaf students in certain schools and we work where we are needed. In my opinion, to be a good scientist, one should also be good at math, so these are the two subjects I enjoy teaching the most. Science allows kids to use their creativity and their problem solving skills.
Growing up as a deaf student, I faced challenges. From K-7th grades, I was mainstreamed at a public school with an American Sign Language interpreter, and then from 8th-12th grades, I went to Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, TX. At TSD, I was in classes where my teachers and classmates used ASL, so this was a different experience compared to mainstream classes where I was the only deaf student in a classroom of 25-30 students. Some of the challenges I experienced was struggles with paying attention and being able to write down notes at the same time. It was not until my college years that I had access to notetakers. Being that I am profoundly deaf, I am a visual learner, and so I highly depend on my interpreters and all visual aids in the classroom. Additionally, being able to participate in group discussions and projects is difficult as access to information is either delayed or limited. I am also a terrible test taker. I get super nervous and don’t always perform well even if I know the material at hand. Because I grew up in Deaf Ed, I was subject to a lot of testing outside of the classroom (reading levels, cognitive/IQ tests, etc) and hated that I had to take so many of them. Another thing I did not like from when I was in mainstream school was whenever we had to give a presentation of some sort, there would be interpreting issues between me and my interpreter and I would be embarrassed.
Most teachers in Deaf Ed in mainstream schools are hearing, so I feel like the fact that I am deaf will enable me to be a better teacher because I will understand my deaf and hard of hearing students’ needs and be able to give them the accommodations and modifications that they need in order to succeed in the classroom. Two of my favorite teachers I have ever had happened to be at TSD. They both were hearing, but knew ASL. They were the two teachers that always pushed me to do my best at all times because they knew I was capable of more and did not let me get away with mediocrity because I wanted to use my deafness as an excuse. Because of this, I will also do the same with my students.