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Former SSD Student Who is Deaf Teaches Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Zachary Jodlowski, an SSD teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing, brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to his teaching position.

Jodlowski himself is deaf and he received many SSD services beginning in 1999 at several schools in partner districts, including Parkway and Brentwood. He counts access to visual language (American Sign Language) and spoken language as being most beneficial to him.

“Through those interventions, I was able to improve my proficiency in both languages, giving me the same bilingual access that I had in my home environment,” he said.

Jodlowski, who was taught in high school by a teacher who is deaf, said he was inspired by a great number of his SSD teachers. And although he had some doubts about being an effective teacher even in his last semester of graduate school, he said it wasn’t until he began student-teaching that he really fell in love with teaching.

“Robin Chickering and Angie Aromando (SSD teachers) were some of my greatest inspirations because they showed me that it was possible for a deaf person to become a teacher of the deaf in a mainstream setting,” said Jodlowski.

Jodlowksi began his SSD teaching career at Parkway West High School in the Parkway School District in 2015.

Area coordinator for the deaf and hard of hearing Wendy Jensen said Jodlowski works alongside many of the same SSD staff that worked with him when he was a student.

“We feel fortunate to have a teacher who can understand the needs of our students from the perspective of someone who is not only deaf himself, but also was a student in SSD’s program not so long ago,” said Jensen.

Jensen said Jodlowski’s recent experiences with college and graduate school make him the ideal teacher for supporting students who are currently preparing to transition from high school to college or employment. “Not only can he guide them through the technical processes, but he can also give them some inside perspective,” she said.

Jodlowski said his favorite part about teaching is getting to see students develop into amazing adults.

“I hope to give students a role model to look up to and refer to when discussing their concerns regarding their transition out of SSD and navigating the hearing world,” said Jodlowski. “It really helps the students, if they are struggling with their deafness, to have someone they can believe when that person says, ‘I know what you are going through, and you will overcome the obstacles you are facing.’”

SSD’s countywide program for students who are deaf or hard of hearing currently serves about 350 students.

Published January 2017

Zachary JodlowskiZachary Jodlowski


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Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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