Deaf school chief’s legacy: Connecting students to their world – Ronald Stern
The New Mexican
By Robert Nott
Sun Feb 1, 2015.
For years, Ronald Stern felt like a foreign visitor in this world. Born deaf, he attended a mainstream public school in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s. He heard nothing around him and could not participate in any discussions or activities without writing notes.
“I couldn’t even eavesdrop on conversations,” he said. “I was taught to think that I was disabled … handicapped.”
The experience made an indelible impression upon him: “There is nothing more dehumanizing than being unable to connect with others around you. If you are not an active member of the community, whether at home or at school, you feel like a visitor rather than a member. … You lose a lot of dignity.”
Today, as superintendent of the New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa Fe, Stern, 62, works to connect his students to the world around them, a task made easier by technology and email, he said. But he is stepping down from the position this summer, retiring after 15 years on the job.