Power of One: A teacher's care helps hearing-impaired kids cope and excel
MONTREAL - For the past 60 years Montreal's Oral School for the Deaf has been helping hearing-impaired children cope and excel in a world built for the hearing.
For 20 of those years Randee Melnick has approached that task with a unique patience and care that has helped kids learn to deal with their special circumstances.
One of her tasks is to get kids to learn to adjust to hearing aids and cochlear implants, which is not something they always embrace immediately.
Among the little tykes reluctant to sport the technology was four-year-old Sidney, who simply preferred to unplug her cochlear implant and ended up often frustrated in certain situations.
But Melnick patiently persuaded the young child to the upsides of the implant. Since she started wearing it full-time, Sidney has progressed considerably.
"She has a sense of humour now, she can listen and talk and communicate very well and she wears her cochlear implant really well now," said the child's father Josh Bernard.
And mom agrees. "They have a very close bond and Sidney's very fond of Randee," said Sidney's mother Cara Dagenais.
Maximizing exposure to sound at an early age can help children advance in the learning process, so it's vital to get the kids to quickly benefit from the technology at hand.
"The key is that we want to get those hearing aids and cochlear implants on as early as possible," said Melnick.
Melnick, a listening and spoken language specialist, puts a lot of planning into modeling her classroom with every type of stimulus and it's a detail that the MOSD principal appreciates.
"She's a person who will take a dollhouse and fill it and every corner with toys and materials for teaching speech and language," said Principal Martha Perusse. "Randee is a very calm person, a very quiet person but she's passionate, she's just full of the joy of learning," said Perusse.
The joy of seeing a young child progress against challenging circumstances is its own reward for Melnick.
"It's just an amazing, amazing overwhelming feeling to know that you've had some small part in helping the family and to see the success of the children and to see that the possibilities are endless," said Melnick.