Thanksgiving Luncheon in Greenville

Eric Martinez, a freshman at Greenville High School, communicates through Signing Exact English with Mary Shaddox, coordinator of the Greenville Regional Day School Program for students with deafness. Martinez has not let his hearing condition stop him from pursuing his interest in auto tech. 

Students in the Greenville Regional Day School Program, which serves children who are hearing impaired, celebrated Thanksgiving on Monday at their annual luncheon event. 

The special education program is made possible by a shared services agreement that allows students from other school districts to participate in the program. Students from Royse City, Quinlan and Caddo Mills are among districts that participate in the special education program in Greenville. 

The luncheon was held at the Greenville Independent School District service center on Jack Finney Boulevard. The event was open to parents and guardians of students, and featured a special reading after the meal. 

This was the second time that parents and guardians were allowed to attend the event. The district has been having the luncheon with students since 2010. 

Mary Shaddox, the coordinator of the day school program, said the event brings students together for a unique experience and is also a good opportunity for adults to learn about specialized summer programs and meet others who have children whose hearing is impaired. 

We bring the kids in and have a big lunch, we work on language and build traditions,” Shaddox said. 

Texas Hands and Voices, support group for parents, and Deaf Action Center from Dallas were at the Monday event to speak to attendees about specialized summer programs and other resources available in the area. 

Josephine Thomas, who came to the event with her grandson, Matthew Hansan, said the program has made a dramatic impact in her grandson’s ability to communicate. Thomas was also the guest reader for the book reading at the luncheon. Matthew is from the Quinlan area.

Matthew would not be able to sign like he does if he had not been here, because he wouldn’t have had enough time to get on that level,” Thomas said. “(Special education teachers) do an amazing amount of work to help these youngsters.” 

Because deafness is a “low-incidence” but “high-need,” Shaddox said she gets the unique opportunity to see her group of students grow from birth until the age of 22. The program currently serves about 50 students. 

Shaddox has been working for the district for 28 years, and before taking the helm of the regional program, was a teacher in the district. She said she knows what many of the parents of her students are going through because she also as a child who is hearing impaired. 

I feel like I’m part of their family and they’re a part of mine. Every parent has my cell phone number and I tell them to call me if they ever need anything and they do. Having a special needs child myself that helps me want to be part of helping them as much as I can,” Shaddox said.

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