I agree, this has been a wonderful experience to be here with all of you.  I grew up in a residential school and moved out of the state after my high school graduation.  So it has been 40 plus years since I returned here with no hidden agenda. I just want to support as we see fit for MSD. 


From the Rochester Institute of Technology / National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s (RIT/NTID) perspective on student enrollment, the number of deaf and hard-of-hearing students who attended RIT/NTID from MSD and Michigan public schools is tracked.  MSD is doing a good job compared to the public schools. In general, Michigan is doing well in both ways supporting the residential school as well as the mainstream public school system.  Of course, there's a room for improvement.  Overall, there is still a small number who actually attended RIT/NTID.  Other residential schools such as the Maryland School for the Deaf and the Indiana School for the Deaf prepare their students to attend the university well. 


I understand the employment situation in the automotive industry where this type of labor force has been reduced.  We now see the future demand shifts to a higher skill level and more students attend technical schools and college.


When I first arrived here I didn't know many of you.  I learned that Todd's mother had attended my high school.  It was my first time meeting Teri.  I did wonder whether she or Jeff had hidden agendas for the workshops but I kept my mind open. I felt a lot better that meetings were proctored or facilitated in a certain way and now we as a team are saying in our 6th meeting day that our meetings went well. Teri and Jeff did a great job in leading us during the structured dialogue process.


I believe we should continue to support each other as a team and I cannot wait, unlike the bamboo video example, which it took too long. Does it really take 5 years for bamboo to grow?  I'm actually hoping for 1 year to develop a strategic plan for reimaging the MSD.  I understand it takes some time. But for the sake of our students, we must make it sooner.  And I'm happy to see that our outcome of the meetings is to focus on students. It's really about the students.  This has been a wonderful group to work with.


Gary Behm

Director, NTID Center on Access Technology

Thanks again for the opportunity to participate in the Structured Dialogue, Reimagining the Michigan School for the Deaf.  The process provided a means of addressing some difficult conversations in a manner that retained respect and trust for all involved.  I was able to learn a great deal about the Michigan School for the Deaf, the funding structure, and the rules/regulations specifically associated with the school.   Most importantly, I came away with a deeper understanding of the communication barriers faced by those in our deaf community, along with some insights into "deaf culture."  Additionally, I was thoroughly impressed by the skill and professionalism of the interpreters.  I am confident the process used to conduct our "Reimagining" built a relational foundation that will lead to better outcomes for our deaf students throughout Michigan.    

The experience and knowledge gleaned from the Structured Dialog will be impactful in my own practice, in the development of programs, and the instruction of students at Delta-Schoolcraft ISD. I am hopeful that our collective experience will translate to improved systems and instructional practice for all students, and particularly our deaf students across the state.  to my deepening was the variety of backgrounds and perceptions of our stakeholder group. It is a tribute to you and the office of special education, to have put together this comprehensive team for the vital work of improving our schools and students.  Please feel free to contact me for any follow-up.   Thank you again.   

Andy Claes
Director of Special Education
Delta-Schoolcraft ISD

At the beginning of this meeting I thought oh, this is not going to work.  Because of past experiences.  And I thought MSD is going to close because nobody is going to want it to do well!  Or be successful.  But now, after 6 days, I'm thinking wow, this is hard and it's my school and this is so interesting how this is becoming a successful process.  And I think it will be, we can achieve what we want to do.  And I appreciate all of you coming for this whole 6 days and taking our school seriously.  I want to thank all of you for everything - your philosophies and opinions and, just everything. 


I also want to say I forgot to add that the first day of our meeting I had a fear to speak up.  I was afraid to say my opinion about my school.  I just thought, I don't know, I think it's different because I have a Deaf perspective.  But I really notice I was wrong.  I was not the only one.  You were all here to collaborate and that really shocked me and hit me hard.  You were really open to dialogue and open to the Deaf perspective.


Jasmine Chamberlain


One thing that was interesting, part of the dialogue that we had, that one person's statement could influence a person's vote.  I appreciated this dialogue procedure.  It's not easy to go through.  It's thought provoking and, a lot of self-analysis, introspective thinking has to happen for this to be a successful process.  We come to the table with diverse philosophies and thought processes in general and opinions and this dialogue was a successful process.  And if you look at the 6 days and the way that the work maps out, we are talking funding and philosophies and student outcomes as a priority.  The days here together - we know that we want the school to succeed and that's a common goal and thread that we all have here.  



Annie Urasky 

Division On Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard-of-Hearing (DODDBHH) Director

Michigan Department of Civil Rights

First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude for allowing me to be part of this important dialogue regarding the future of Michigan School for the Deaf.  As an employee, as well as an alumni class of ‘78, this holds much precedence for the present and future of Michigan School for the Deaf (MSD) especially when ensuring that there is an equivalence of Deaf perspectives.


I feel a need to reiterate the experiences felt by Stevie Naeyaert that we, as Deaf stakeholders of MSD, have always faced the issue of being marginalized with the planning and decision making of MSD over the years.  Through this process, the collaboration that have been experienced with the different lens of deaf and hearing participants from the north of the Upper Peninsula to south of Detroit, have shown that each and every one of you have brought forth respect and consideration of one another’s viewpoints.  Through this, the lid has been lifted off this marginalized issue that we, the Deaf stakeholders have experienced, and provided hope for a positive collaboration of both communities for the sake of MSD.


That being said, I want to emphasize the importance of continuing this positive collaboration with one another.  The work does not end at this 6th day of structured dialogue.  It is my hope that this work will continue to grow and to not forget that we are serving for the future of our deaf and hard of hearing students.


Again, my gratitude cannot be expressed enough to Teri Chapman for ensuring that Michigan Department of Education (MDE) becomes proactive towards a working collaboration between both the deaf and hearing stakeholders; and to Jeff Diedrich for facilitating these structured dialogues.  Furthermore, much gratitude is given to the American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART), and those who have worked to ensure that communication is facilitated between both communities. Thank you.

Being part of these structured dialogues have brought forth renewed optimism for the future of Michigan School for the Deaf (MSD) through the alliance that has been evident with insights from both deaf and hearing participants.  Even more so, I was pleased to see our present MSD students become part of the team and gain experiences that will carry with them as they pave the way of becoming positive, contributing deaf leaders.


However, it is incumbent upon us, as deaf and hearing participants, to maintain having autonomous and authentic dialogues after this opportunity to conquer any skepticism that positive change at MSD is imminent and will become a reality.  There is hope and we need to continue to be visible.


For allowing me to be part of this vital process, I thank you.