Thursday, July 19, 2007
Gallaudet Teacher Shares Her Love of Books
Back in May, 2007, I came across a compilation of books with deaf and hard of hearing characters on Myshelf.com
Now there's more:
Sharon Pajka-West, Ph.D., loves books with deaf and hard of hearing characters in them. She provides extensive reviews on her blog: Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature. An instructor at Gallaudet in the Department of Applied Literacy, Sharon was diagnosed with Meneier's Disease at the age of fifteen. A doctor told her she would be deaf by the time she was 30.
In her twenties, Sharon's hearing began fluctuating so she and her mom enrolled in American Sign Language class together. Her instructor urged her to consider a career in Deaf Education.
"I never wanted to be a teacher," says Sharon. "My first ASL teacher, a graduate of Gallaudet, convinced me to go to graduate school there."
Sharon taught for eight years, first at The Learning Center in Boston and at The Virginia School for the Deaf in Staunton, then a year in a mainstream school. "I like teenage kids, they're fun!"
Sharon tries to instill a love for books with the students she teaches. "Many of my students hated English... which I could understand because I wasn't a big fan until middle school when I discovered the Sweet Valley Twins series. Before that I was a struggling reader."
On her blog, Sharon has a variety of information, including interviews with authors, book reviews and a newsletter for teachers. She keeps an extensive list of over one hundred books of Adolescent Literature Books with Deaf Characters.
When asked about her favorite books, Sharon shares, "From the hearing authors, I really like Jean Ferris' Of Sound Mind. And from the deaf authors, I really enjoyed Nobody's Perfect(Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney-- who is hearing).
Sharon has a seven hour commute to her job, four days a week. "It may seem crazy," she says, "but I do take the train."
"Lots of time to read!" she says, with a wink.