Rocky Mountain Deaf School Thursday, January 8th at 2:30 pm
Rocky Mountain Deaf School is a charter school that has moved several times in its history but finally has a building designed specifically for deaf students at the corner of South Kipling Street and West Nassau Street, east of D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School.
Students arrived for their first day at the new building on December 3rd, 2014. The 46,000 sf building consists of separate classrooms for students in Pre-K through 12th grade and provides a safe and healthy learning environment. It is located on a 10 acre parcel of land and has a goal of achieving LEED Gold Certification.
Students are taught ASL (American Sign Language) from an early age as you can see by the figures in the playground area. Part of their curriculum is to videotape themselves signing to see if they are understandable to another deaf student. A full video production lab including “green screen” backgrounds is used by students to create morning announcements and presentations. Every classroom has a video monitor where announcements are made each morning through either ASL or text on the screen. Each classroom also has red, amber, and green warning lights for emergencies, announcements, and class changes. Pages to classrooms are accomplished by lighting a warning light and flashing the page on the video screen.
Students are very sensitive to both light and color, so classrooms have extensive daylighting and daylight harvesting controls. You will notice all tables are arranged in a semi-circular manner so students can see both the teacher and each other in order to communicate through ASL. All students are considered bilingual (English and ASL). Floors in the classrooms and halls are designed to have a little “bounce” to them so students can “feel” someone walking up behind them so they are not startled. HVAC systems utilized radiant heating and cooling in the floor with minimal overhead air systems to minimize air vibrations. Deaf students can “feel” a noisy air system which will disrupt their concentration.
Culinary arts are taught to high school students who also participate in the “Top Chef” cooking competition.
Tables in the cafeteria are circular so students can see each other allowing communications through ASL. The cafeteria also doubles as an assembly area for school meetings and presentations.
Food is prepared off-site and brought to the cafeteria for meals.
Hallways are designed to be wide enough for two sets of two student to pass each other without going single-file. This is so students conversing through ASL don’t have to interrupt their conversation when passing another group of students.
The students are very visual and colors throughout the school are intended to be visually stimulating. Each group of classes (elementary, middle school, and high school) are identified throughout the school with a particular color. When all grades share a space, all colors are represented in that space.