Santa brings joy to Deaf/Hard of Hearing class


Deaf students with Santa
Santa Claus used ASL (American Sign Language) to talk to Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at Winola Elementary during a virtual visit.


Dec. 16, 2021 - Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at Winola Elementary had a special virtual visit this week when they discovered that Santa Claus can also communicate by ASL (American Sign Language).

Carly Kirkman, K-4 teacher said, "It means so much to our students to meet a Santa who uses their language. Our students deserve access to everything, just like their hearing peers. Our kids were overjoyed to meet a Santa who is Deaf himself and signs."

According to interpreter Lori Dekeyrel, Fred Fox, who lives in Humeston, Iowa, is Deaf and attends events at schools for Deaf children at no cost to the schools. Dekeyrel works with students and made the connection with Fox.

He just loves to make Deaf and Hard of Hearing children smile at Christmas time. I got his name from a Deaf friend of mine. He told me the kids would love it and I should contact him to set up a call in our classroom. His beard and hair are his and not a costume!” said Dekeyrel.

Some of the items the students told Santa they wanted include: bicycle, slime, and tablet. Most also included a new pet, a dog and/or cat... and a horse, of course.

Dekeyrel said it was an amazing opportunity for the kids, "We were so excited to see them communicating by themselves and not through an interpreter! It was amazing," she said.

Sherrard School District houses the elementary BHASED (Black Hawk Area Special Education District) Deaf/Hard of Hearing class.

The Deaf/Hard of Hearing team consists of: Carly Kirkman (K-4 teacher), Katie Benedict (Pre-K teacher), Lori DeKeyrel (interpreter), Shalom Warrington (interpreter), and Ahrin Hulsing (interpreter).

The students in the class are - Chase (3rd grade), Jaylin (2nd grade), Lanique (kindergarten), Eli (preschool), Alonzo (preschool), Arabelle (preschool), Tallulah (preschool).