A native of Albuquerque, N.M., Rachel Kolb sees effective communication as essential to ideas, creativity and progress.  She received a BA with honors in English from Stanford and graduated in June 2013 with a coterminal master’s degree in English. While at Stanford, Kolb has been active in the Stanford Equestrian Team, Leland Quarterly, Stanford Daily and Stanford Power to ACT. She aspires to be a writer, scholar and public disability advocate. Kolb was named an American Rhodes scholar in November 2012 and will pursue an MSc in contemporary literature at Oxford beginning in October 2013.

She is also a deaf adult.


From Education to Educator: Tim’s Story

Tim Albert

We sat down with Tim Albert, an active and important member of Georgia’s Deaf community and member of our Executive Committee, who graciously shared his story with us. We thought his journey was a great one to share with the Pathway community. It’s one of success but, like many of us, marked by an unrealized dream and unexpected twists and turns. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into Mr. Albert’s work life serving D/HH children throughout the state of Georgia!

What do you do for a living?

Currently, I am the Student Life Coordinator on the GSD Campus.
Tell me about how you got into your line of work.

After obtaining a Master’s degree from Gallaudet University in 2004, I received an email from one of GSD’s staff members saying that there was a social work position opening at GSD. I was set up to come to GSD for a job interview. I drove to Cave Spring from College Park, Maryland. It was my first time visiting GSD’s campus. I was nervous when I met with GSD’s Interview Committee Team; however, I did my best to answer all interview questions. When I got back to Maryland, I checked my email and received good news that I got the job! I moved to Georgia in 2005. Four years later in 2009, I applied for the Student Life Coordinator position and got the job.

Do you like your job?

Yes. It’s challenging and rewarding.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

I wanted to become a truck driver because my late uncle taught me and my little brother how to drive a truck. I love the feeling and thought of being high off the road and traveling all over the USA. Unfortunately, due to my deafness, I had to go with my second career choice. That was my big dream. Good news- I heard that all states in America have allowed deaf and hard of hearing persons can drive trucks (!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

At first, I thought that I wanted to work as a computer operator but it was such a boring job!  It was hard for me to think of what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was not until my early college years that I felt drawn to the Social Work field. It definitely is the ideal career for me!

What lessons has your work life taught you?

There are so many lessons I have learned though my years as Student Life Coordinator. To name a few important lessons; helping resolve conflicts between staff members and between staff members and students (very challenging at times), learning to be more diplomatic, role-modeling desired communication/interpersonal skills and being open, flexible and prepared for the unexpected.

If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?

I would love to drive a truck.

Do you plan on retiring? If so, when? How do you feel about it?

Not yet, too young- smile!

Do you have any favorite stories from your work life?

I never forgot about a former female student who did not like the new dorm rules. The female student and I didn’t see eye to eye on things, but I continued to work closely with her because I could see so much potential in this student. She has the drive and the intelligence to be successful like me but needed a great deal of support and encouragement. I liked challenging her. One day, she approached me and told me that she kicked my new car because she did not like me. I asked her to show me where she kicked my car.  She pointed at a blue car.  I told her that car was not mine. I laughed and she felt embarrassed. She then ended up laughing and knew she was going to get in trouble with the person who owned the “injured” blue car.

Thank you, Tim, for your openness and willingness to share your story! We appreciate all you do for GSD and Georgia Pathway!

To learn more about Georgia Pathway to Language and Literacy, please visit our website at or email us at

Manic Monday: Purple Bread, a Story in ASL


This video is presented in ASL with spoken English interpretation.

Many thanks to the Accessible Materials Project (AMP) for providing such a wonderful variety of videos in ASL! Check out their YouTube channel here.

For more information about Georgia Pathway to Language & Literacy, please visit our website at or email us at


What it’s like to hear mommy’s voice for the first time…


Happy Tuesday, Pathfinders!


To learn more about Georgia Pathway to Language & Literacy, please visit our website at or email us at

Mom to the Rescue: A Story of Early Intervention and Beating the Odds

Ever heard of Rachel Coleman?

She’s the very animated lady you see in all the Signing Time videos.


That’s her.

She is the mother of a daughter who is deaf and another daughter who has special physical needs.

And her story is incredible.

Her courage, her tenacity, her faith in her child.

She’s an inspiration to all mothers, fathers, families, teachers who work tirelessly to create language-rich environments for children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

I spent an hour watching her presentation, “One Deaf Child,” and I couldn’t have chosen a better way to spend my afternoon.

Check it out! You’ll be glad you did.

Our little caterpillars do become butterflies and what I’ve found is that sign language often gives them their wings.

Marcelo’s Story

We visited a D/HH teacher, Erica, to hear about her student, Marcelo, who is deaf and bilingual (English and Spanish). She shared his story with us:

Marcelo is seven years old.

Marcelo passed his newborn hearing screening.  His mom began to suspect hearing loss when Marcelo was two and a half.  He was diagnosed at two years ten months and was aided with hearing aids two months later.  After receiving little benefit from the hearing aids, he got his first implant (right ear) at four years old.  His left ear was implanted at age six. He started school for Listening and Spoken Language when he was five and a half.

At the beginning of last school year, Marcelo was using single words and some simple sentences of up to three words (TASL level 1).  At the end of last year, he was consistently using simple sentences of three or more words and beginning to use some sentences of six or more words (TASL level 2).  Right now, he is consistently using sentences of six or more words and some sentences of eight or more words (TASL level 3). His vocabulary has also grown tremendously.

We have worked on a ton! Past tense verbs (irregular and regular), question words (when, how, why), subject-verb agreement, conjunctions (but, which, so), infinitive “to”, If___, then ___ sentences, comparatives, superlatives, question word order, prepositions, vocabulary development, voiced and voiceless /th/, /r/, /t/ and /d/, Kindergarten math and Kindergarten reading concepts.

We’ve gone to the nurse (who speaks Spanish) on numerous occasions to translate a word that Marcelo is using in Spanish into English.  At the beginning of the year, his [English] language wasn’t strong enough to describe the word he was using in Spanish (ex: using adjectives or words that are similar or a category name) so we would go to the nurse to translate.  His language has improved some so that he is able to talk around a word, rather than just repeat the word, and tell us a little bit about the word so we can bridge to the English translation ourselves.

All language targets and vocabulary words are sent home weekly so his mom and dad can be sure to share with Marcelo how this language sounds in Spanish.


Here is a video clip of Erica and Marcelo’s speech lesson.

Part 2 of Marcelo’s story will be coming soon (en Espanol)…

Emily’s Story

Emily Teaching Picture Crop

“…Literacy starts at such a young age. It starts with a child observing their father reading the paper or watching their mom read a book. It starts with the child learning how to hold a book, how to treat a book, the left to right sequence of things. Just knowing that a child is never too young to be taught…”

Emily Elswick sat down with Sophie Edwards to share her story of teaching children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

What led you to your career as a LSLS (Listening and Spoken Language Specialist)?

I went to grad school for Speech Pathology. I was an Elementary Education major in college and didn’t have an undergraduate degree for speech. Part of the requirement was that I had to observe clients before practicing my clinicals.

One of the clients I observed was a little boy with a cochlear implant who was in the transitional period of signing and spoken language. He was talking about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly and he was trying to form words as he was signing. I just fell in love with the deaf population during that observation and pursued the AV track at that university.

What do you believe is the greatest thing that you can bring to the classroom? 

I would like to think that I can captivate an audience. I would like to think that the children in the classroom are attentive to me and in turn that motivates them to learn to listen and want to express themselves in words. I also feel that I owe it to the children and their families to stay current on the latest research and techniques.

What’s a common challenge you face in the classroom?

I think in the classroom, not just when I work with a child in AV therapy, in the classroom, I’m often working with grandparents or nannies, or a variety of caregivers. It’s a challenge trying to get everyone on board with the same information. Classroom management, for me, is often a challenge – even coming from an Elementary Ed background! I think that routine helps. Keeping the classroom very structured is essential – especially working with two-year-olds!

What is a teaching strategy that’s been helpful for you?

I find that with the age range I work with, the children are really responsive to songs and music, so I sing everything we do. We sing the good morning song, we sing the good-bye song, we sing the cleaning-up song, we sing the gluing song! I think that the repetition and the melody make it really motivating for the children. Oftentimes, a child’s first words are the words to a song. I use that a lot in the classroom.

What is something that parents of children who are D/HH should know about their child’s education? What’s something that you’d want to fill parents in on?

I hope that the parent knows that my goals are their goals. Just like them, I want their child to reach his or her fullest potential. I encourage parents to go out and observe classrooms that their child is in and become really involved in their child’s education, asking questions if they don’t understand something. Not breezing through an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting, for example.

What would you tell the parents, as far as what they can do to help their child succeed inside and outside the classroom?

To answer both of those questions in just one sentence: just be involved. When you’re involved in the classroom, you know what your child’s goals are, you can see how the teacher’s trying to elicit the goals, and you can carry those goals over at the home, utilizing the same strategies that the teacher is using. The child then reaches that goal faster, because you’re working twice as hard.

Do you have a favorite memory or story from a child you’ve taught? A child’s success?

I have so many. It happens on a daily basis.

Do you have one that sticks out in your memory?

One memory kind of sticks out in my mind. I was in AV therapy with a family and this particular child had not yet uttered a word. She was working on her learning to listen sounds and familiar songs. We were singing “Where is thumbkin” for probably…I don’t even know how many times we sang this song together! She uttered her first words, which were actually a phrase. She said, “Run away, run away,” which is part of that song. Her mom burst into tears. That was just a really good moment, a really motivating moment.

Repetition can get kind of mundane to therapists and parents alike, and it just goes to show how important that review and repetition are in therapy. Even though you’re tired of it, the child still needs it.

How can other teachers replicate those strategies?

Keeping expectations high, and knowing that that’s what it takes. So even if you get discouraged, you know it’s going to pay off.

What advice can you give teachers to help them along to the goal (of having all deaf and hard of hearing children read on level by 3rd grade)?

Just knowing that literacy starts at such a young age. It starts with a child observing their father reading the paper or watching their mom read a book. It starts with the child learning how to hold a book, how to treat a book, the left to right sequence of things. Just knowing that a child is never too young to be taught literacy and reading strategies is important. Literacy starts from the very beginning of a child’s life, when a mom is reading a bedtime story to her baby. It’s also important for the teacher to realize what an integral role parents have in fostering literacy within their child.

Early intervention is crucial?


What are some teaching strategies that parents can use at home?

Read to them and model good reading habits. Teach them how to treat a book. I think just those little things are really important. Having parents include their young child by maybe having the child turn the page.

Do you have any encouragement for teachers who may be the only D/HH teachers in their school or their district?

I was a speech pathologist in a very rural part of NC before I moved to Atlanta. I think the encouragement comes from working with children and seeing progress. I think you have to really be creative with your lessons, though … You have to be creative and figure out how you can target a goal using something that is motivating to the child without these technology perks. That would be my advice. Get creative. Get down to the scissors and glue and tape of therapy and of your classroom activities.

Emily Elswick Interview Pic

Emily Elswick is a Speech Pathologist, who specializes in Auditory Verbal Therapy, or Listening and Spoken Language.