Sertoma Members Enhance Elementary Education

Improved frequency connection in a Colorado classroom changed the lives of students, thanks to Sertoma members.

January 12, 2016

Can you imagine going to school and not being able to communicate effectively with your teacher? It would be extremely challenging, frustrating and discouraging to try and learn, correct? But what if a group of people made it so that you would never have to worry about facing any unexpected communication barriers ever again?

Generosity goes a long way. The members of the High Noon Sertoma Club were able to take one elementary school’s class dream, and turn it into an incredible life changing reality.

Elementary school teacher SueAnn Gurwell had a significant problem that needed to be addressed. Each day, in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program at Stratton Elementary School in Colorado Springs, CO., children with hearing loss were unable to hear their teachers due to a frequency overload.

The program used in classrooms is called a FM System, and this was the primary source of communication between the student and teacher. A FM system is comprised of a transmitter, which the teacher wears, and the receiver is what the child wears. In most classes, there were no communication issues between the teacher and student. However, SueAnn’s classroom seemed to be the exception.

“We have so many frequencies at school. Sometimes they bleed into each other,” SueAnn said. “When that happens, the students might end up hearing a different teacher.”

Hearing the wrong teacher during a classroom exercise is a huge hurdle to overcome. It creates confusion, and conflict to kids as well as staff.

SueAnn is a member of the High Noon Sertoma Club, a nonprofit organization that nationally focuses on hearing health and volunteer services. This club in particular has had a relationship with the Stratton Elementary school district for many years. Club volunteers have contributed to sponsoring track and field days at various elementary schools within the district, and have also donated more than $28,000 to Stratton Elementary school.

High Noon’s members learned about the problems that SueAnn’s classroom was having, and wanted to offer some much needed assistance.

Jim Festi, the president of High Noon Sertoma Club, says the answer for helping the students was simple. “In order to learn, you have to hear,” Festi said.

However, the solution wasn’t quite that simple. In order to provide the classroom with the proper equipment needed, it would require an amount of $16,000.

According to Jim, the biggest problem with the current FM system was that it was outdated. Therefore, the easiest and most effective solution was to replace the entire system. It wasn’t long until the members of the High Noon Sertoma Club provided the experience of a lifetime. In November 2014, the club donated $16,364.39 to the school. The students now had access to brand new, top of the line equipment.

“It’s just so exciting to see a group of people care so much for our students,” SueAnn said. “That has always been their focus: what can we do for the kids.”

Nancy Homan, the District Assistant Director of Special Education added, “We greatly appreciate the donation and know our students will be more successful because of High Noon’s generosity.”

The club was able to raise the funds through the sale of football raffle books, and by hosting weekly bingo games.

“When we started doing bingo, we had more funds to help in a monetary way,” said Don Hampton, a club member. According to Dan, the past four years, the club has contributed to both the school, as well as scholarships to the Aspen Camp for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Many of the funds that were currently donated will also be given to Stratton’s Sign Choir for shirts and other miscellaneous items.

“The district is honored to have the High Noon Sertoma Club recognize the needs of our students who have a hearing loss,” Nancy said. “None of the club’s efforts will ever be taken for granted.”

 

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