Winter 2018/19

North Carolina Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children With Hearing Impairments

NC Department of Public Instruction

Office of Early Learning





Each child will be honored, respected, and empowered to achieve success in school and life.

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How to Make a Referral

Contact Mandy Hice, BS, ITFS
Social Worker II and Intake Coordinator



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Table of Contents

Cute Corner

Read, Read, Read

NCELSSP-HI EHDI Presentation

Community of Practice Updates

Assessment Committee Update

Staff Development and Save the Dates

Resources and Opportunities for Families

Where Are They Now?

Will's Way Project

Director's Spotlight

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Cute Corner

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Read, Read, Read!

Read Aloud 15 minutes is a National campaign to encourage all parents to read aloud to their children at least 15 minutes per day. Studies show that children of parents who do this have better reading and language skills when they start school. Caregivers are children’s first teachers. Reading 15 minutes per day from birth to age 5 equals 27,375 minutes or 456 hours or 19 whole days! That’s a lot of reading input and language interaction from one activity!

How can a busy parent fit this reading time into each day? It can be 5 minutes here or 3 minutes there. Here are some ideas from Michelle, mother of two micro-preemie twins, Avery and Annie, who are currently 22 months old (adjusted age 19 months). Avery has a bilateral profound hearing loss and has bilateral cochlear implants. She has been activated for 4 months (her hearing age).

Meal time: Because the girls need additional calories through their g-tubes, they have to sit up and be still for 10-15 additional minutes beyond their regular feeding time. This is when caregivers take books that are stored near the table and hold the books up near the girls’ high chairs as they read. They often do more interactive books at this time that require the books to be kept up such as peek-a-boo books that have flaps or paper type books that can rip more easily if left out for the girls. The girls can take turns pulling flaps or pointing and touching the books as they hear the stories.

Play/floor time: The family keeps books easily accessible in containers such as baskets and on low shelves in two different rooms so that when Avery and Annie are crawling or toddling around they can explore books on their own, bring books to the caregivers to ask to be read to and can learn to follow the common phrase, “Go get a book” when requested. They have full control of choice of which books they want to select. This is when they often have individual book time reading on a parent’s lap. But many times, the other twin will want to join to hear the story as well.

Bed time: Michelle and her husband, Bruce, put the girls in the same crib during reading time before they are placed into their own beds for sleep time. Avery and Annie stand up in the crib as the parents read to them. The girls can easily reach the book to point or pat. Annie naturally model’s answering questions and using some words and sounds for Avery.

Click on the links below for more reading/literacy ideas to use within your child’s daily routines:

https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/304-how-to-introduce-toddlers-and-babies-to-books http://gluesticksgumdrops.com/5-tips-for-making-bath-time-fun-for-toddlers/


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New ELSSP-HI Child Find Process-EHDI Presentation

Ruth Anne and Mandy presented to the Early Hearing Detection Intervention (EHDI) Advisory Committee on October 10. They discussed the new child find process that started on July 1, 2018 in the Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Hearing Impairments (ELSSP-HI). The child find process was started to be sure all families of infants and toddlers with a diagnosed hearing loss are aware of services they can access. When a child is diagnosed at the audiologist with a hearing loss and a release is signed, ELSSP-HI can contact the family and make a one-time child find visit. If possible, a teacher of the deaf will make this visit with the Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA).

At the child find visit, the ELSSP-HI teacher discusses our program, the CDSA, BEGINNINGS for Parents of Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program and the services those agencies offer. The family is informed about the referral process and what they need to do to access early intervention services. The ELSSP-HI teacher can provide helpful information and discuss questions the family may have about their child’s hearing loss. If a family cannot be reached or declines a visit, a child find packet of information is mailed to the family.

ELSPP-HI is tracking data in various ways and can see the positive outcomes of the child find visits. Positive feedback has been received from agencies, parents, and staff about the process. Moving forward, ELSSP-HI plans to have continued education and professional development regarding our child find and ongoing collaboration with pediatric audiologists , CDSA staff and EHDI professionals.

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Commmunity of Practice Updates

CoP Childcare Settings

The Childcare Setting Community of Practice met on December 5th in Greensboro for their first face-to-face meeting. Topics discussed were projected outcomes and goals for the Community of Practice, challenges teachers face in a childcare center setting, and positive experiences and ideas within childcare centers. Discussion was held in a round table manner so that all members were able to participate and give feedback. Handouts specific to childcare settings were shared with the group. The handouts were in an online format so CoP members can access and add handouts to the link. Plans are being made for the Natural Learning Environment CoP and Childcare CoP to have a joint face-to-face meeting in Greensboro on May 23rd. More information to come!

Community of Practice Meetings/Webinars have been scheduled for:

January 23, 2019 webinar 3-4:30pm

March 13, 2019 webinar 3-4:30pm

May 23, 2019 Face-to-face meeting - 9:30am -2:30pm, Hemphill Library in Greensboro

CoP Coaching and Natural Learning Environments

The Coaching and Natural Learning Environments (NLE) Community of Practice (CoP) began its third year of meeting with a large group GoTo Meeting on October 16, 2018. At this meeting teachers shared their goals for the year in improving their practice of using coaching as an interaction style in natural learning environments. On December 4, 2018 the CoP met in Greensboro. At this meeting teachers shared their successes, discussed challenges, participated in role plays and watched videos showcasing the different components of a session – joint planning, action practice, feedback, and reflection. The large group was divided into two small groups. Each small group will meet via GoTo Meeting in January, March, and April and then come back together as a large group on May 21, 2019 in Greensboro.

- Kristen Steele, Mary Lou Wright, Cindy Boyd, & Preston Collins

Meetings/Webinars have been scheduled for:

January 17, 2019 from 3 - 4:30p

February 21, 2019 from 3 - 4:30p

April 4, 2019 from 3 - 4:30p

May 21, 2019 from 9:30 - 2:30p at Hemphill Library (joint meeting with CoP Childcare)

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Assessment Committee Update

The Assessment Committee met on December 17, 2018 via GoToMeeting to discuss and develop an ELSSP-HI statement to define visual mode of communication, discuss and determine specific evaluations and resources to include in the ELSSP-HI assessment protocol for children utilizing a visual mode of communication, brainstorm potential staff training opportunities for CASLLS Spanish, determine next steps, and discuss Long Range Planning staff training opportunities in person.

The following action steps were determined:

-Jen stated the history of the ELSSP-HI transition template that meets the data collection requirement pertaining to HB 317. The committee approved to include student specific audiological thresholds at 4000 Hz in the transition assessment reports. Therefore, the ELSSP-HI transition report will contain all data requirements per HB 317 guidelines.

-Agreement was made to adopt definitions pertaining to visual modes of communication defined on the BEGINNINGS website. These definitions will assist the ELSSP-HI teachers to clearly define visual modes of communication with families, and to provide a consistent program wide definition.

-Discussion was held regarding opportunities for staff training pertaining to the administration of the informal Spanish CASLLS assessment.

-Long Range Planning training will be held during the 2019 Opening Convocation.

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Staff Development and Save the Dates

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Save the Date

Opening ELSSP Convocation

August 13-14, 2019

Holiday Inn Raleigh - Crabtree

4100 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh

Additional Information to Follow!

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Resources and Opportunities for Families

The CARE Project Parent Professional Collaborative

The CARE Project is sponsoring a 2 day event in Greensboro at the O'Henry Hotel on Feb. 22/23, 2019.

This event will bring both parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing together with the professionals who provide services for them. The primary focus is the emotional journey of these families as well as elevating the awareness and sensitivity of professionals about those family emotional journeys.

There will be presentations for the entire group together and breakout sessions for parents and for professionals. Speakers are coming from medical, clinical and educational settings and there are several experts coming in from out of state to speak as well. A highlight on the agenda will be presentations by young adults who are deaf and hard of hearing sharing their own personal journeys. Continuing Education Units will be available as well.

Funding is available to offer 50 parents a scholarship to attend at no cost and there are 25 hotel rooms to house families at no cost. These scholarships are on a first-come basis.

For more information:


This online resource works to ensure that babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections that are critical to their well-being and development.


Hearing First

The Hearing First website is a multimedia digital experience and connection point designed to link families who have chosen listening and spoken language (LSL) for their children with hearing loss, and the professionals who work with them, with the resources, information, tools, community and learning experiences they need to ensure the children in their lives succeed.

They also have a Online Family Support Community. Members have access to helpful resources and tools and will be able to connect through discussions and shared experiences to support children towards their desired LSL outcome. All community members will have a variety of opportunities to collaborate, learn and grow together to help children reach their full potential.

You can register at:


Baby Talk

Mission: To positively impact child development and nurture healthy parent-child relationships during the critical early years.


Reading Resources

These are some great online resources for teachers and parents about the importance of reading aloud to children. Articles, activities, book lists/suggestions, and so much more!





HITCH-UP Parent Support Groups

These parent lead support groups provide support to parents of children with hearing loss.

Charlotte HITCH-UP



(Guilford County/Greensboro Area)


Triangle Area HITCH-UP

(Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Area)

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1536664679895197/

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Where Are They Now?


Submitted by Keegan's parents, Charles and Vanessa

Keegan is in 1st grade and will be 7 in January. We now live in WA near Seattle. Early intervention services definitely helped me with education on everything related to hearing loss and not feeling lost. It helped Keegan with getting him on track to being successful and not behind. I definitely feel if it wasn’t for early intervention we definitely wouldn’t be where we are now--successful. A lot of people don’t realize Keegan is deaf or speech delayed because he has had so many services that have gotten him to where he is right now! People just think he sports around a cool headband!

ELSSP-HI Teacher - Stacie Polk

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Will's Way Project

Submitted by Donna Snipes

Will was born September 2010. Five days later he and his family began "a roller coaster ride of doctors, tests, hospitals, and all the emotions a parent experiences when her child is sick." There were many hospital stays with the longest being 63 days with his mother by his side. Gifts and cards came almost daily. Sadly, Will passed away at age 5 1/2. The first Christmas after Will passed away, Beth was at a loss as to how she was going to make it through the holidays. Beth asked herself "How can I help someone else?"

Beth thought back over the times she had spent in the hospital and thought "how nice it would be to have a simple Christmas gift to share with other parents in the same position, just to let them know someone understands, someone cares about what they need, someone is praying for them as well as their child." Beth came up with the idea of gathering a few items and putting them in decorated lunch bags with a $10 Starbucks Gift Card and deliver them to the parents at UNC Children's Hospital on Christmas Eve and would call it “Will’s Way”. Beth's church family supported Will's Way and enough items were donated and funds raised to fill LARGE gift bags including Starbucks cards with funds left over. The leftover funds were used for gas cards that were added to the bags. Beth, her mother, and Taylor, Will’s dad, delivered 48 bags Christmas Eve to the 6th floor and PICU where Will had spent so much of his time. "The response of gratitude was overwhelming."

One parent said it the best in a letter to Beth: "I want you to know Will is with us. Thank you for making my son and I feel good on this holiday away from our family. You made us smile and realize that we need to be thankful for our chance of seeing one more day." The next year, with the help of Beth's church family, 125 bags were delivered to all of the children's units at UNC Children's Hospital on Christmas Eve. The 2018 goal was 200 Christmas gift bags to be delivered, not only to UNC Children's Units, but to all of the Children's Units at Duke Hospital! Beth supplies the bags and decorations. Local merchants post the list of items needed, Oxford Methodist Church (Beth's church) supplies the location for collections and packing.

Beth has been invited to share her story about Will's Way locally and in surrounding counties. A video can be viewed on Facebook and YouTube. https//:youtube/QewKQCqoHXY

Story info was taken from the Oxford Public Ledger 11/26/2018 edition and with permission of Beth, Will's mom. Will's grandmother was my fifth-grade teacher!

Beth (mom), Will, William (dad)
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Director's Corner

Jen Dunn

Jen began her career in educating the Deaf at the Central NC School for the Deaf in 1982. She has worn many hats since 1982, all of which have helped mold her into the teacher and supervisor she has become. Jen earned her bachelor’s degree in child development and family relations and her master’s degree in deaf education from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. She currently holds NC teaching licenses in the areas of hearing impairment, mentor, B-K, regular education grades K-6, and Exceptional Children Program Administrator. Many don’t know it, but Jen has been a certified Infant Massage Therapist and Child Safety Seat Technician. She is currently a certified Love and Logic Educator.

Jen has been married to Ray for 36+years, has 2 children; Jacob and PJ, and 2 grandchildren; Davis, 5, and Riley, 2. Her best times are those spent with family and she has loved using them as test subjects for teaching and behavior strategies, singing, reading and fingerplays. It started with Jacob and PJ learning sign language as babies and then with her grandchildren as she experimented with Love and Logic strategies. Her grandchildren affectionately call her “Pip”. Davis was 4 months old before it was decided Jen’s grandparent name would be Pip. Nothing seemed to fit.

Jen has several dogs and cats, all of whom are rescues and are considered part of the family. Jen loves playing ball with them and just plain spoiling them. She loves working outside in the yard and enjoys helping others. Jen volunteers for animal causes and the American Red Cross.

Jen will retire sometime in 2019. She has learned so much from families and colleagues. She appreciates everyone who has crossed her path as those are the ones who have taught her to be a better teacher, leader, friend, colleague and ultimately person.

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Newsletter Committee

Chris Czajkowski
Jen Dunn
Donna Snipes

Jenni Campagna

Preston Collins

Ruth Anne Everett

Roxanne Falls

Mandy Hice

Elizabeth Hopkins

Sharon Moore

Anna Ownbey