Seven-year-old Jocelyn Westerfeld of St. Charles will transition from the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis to a public school district in the fall.
Westerfeld has come a long way after losing nearly all of her hearing as a preschooler. And at age 4, she was not getting the services she needed.
“When we were in the public school, I had concerns about her saying the letter ‘F.’ That was a big concern. She couldn’t say it and they just told me, ‘She probably will never say this letter. There’s a good chance she never well,’” said Katie Westerfeld, Jocelyn’s mother.
But within months of attending CID in the Central West End, Jocelyn’s family noticed a huge change.
“She was saying the letter ‘F.’ And this was something we were told might never happen,” her mother said.
Principal Linda Berkowitz said Jocelyn had extreme difficulty communicating when she first arrived at CID at the end of her pre-school years. She was mumbling and nearly impossible to understand, she said.
The environment at CID transformed her learning environment. She joined CID’s preschool class in 2015, at age 4.
“What we can do at CID is provide children with a really intensive listening and spoken language, and structural environment. They’re with a teacher of the deaf all day, from the time they arrive at 8:30 in the morning until they leave at 3:30 in the afternoon,” Berkowitz said.
Berkowitz said the students receive direction instruction for speech, language, and listening.
“Our goal is for them to return their home, general education school. Whatever school it is that their parents wanted them to go to, before they found out that their child was deaf or hard of hearing,” she said.
Westerfeld is profoundly deaf in one ear, and severely to profoundly deaf in her other ear.
CID has taught her to listen, learn and succeed, administrators said. Jocelyn read part of her graduation speech:
“I am happy. I came to CID because I learned how to use my devices. I will miss my friends next year. But don’t worry, I’ll come back to visit.”