Sowell Center Hosts 13th Annual Lecture Series

Texas School for the Deaf speakers will share best practices in serving students with sensory disabilities.

Nora Griffin-Shirley, Sowell Center director, said the center educates professionals  and West Texas community members who interact with students with sensory disabilities.

Nora Griffin-Shirley, Sowell Center director, said the center educates professionals and West Texas community members who interact with students with sensory disabilities.

The Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Sensory Disabilities at Texas Tech is hosting its 13th Annual Sowell Distinguished Lecture Series from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 5 in Lecture Hall 001 of the English and Philosophy Building.

Theresa Johnson, director of Summer Programs and an educational specialist; and Johnett Scogin, a curriculum specialist, both with the Texas School for the Deaf, will speak on “Striking a Balance: Curriculum Access That Makes Sense for Struggling Learners who are Deaf.”

“The lecture series is designed to inform and train professionals serving students with sensory disabilities with the latest in emerging research, technology and teaching trends,” said Nora Griffin-Shirley, director of the center. “It also serves as outreach to members of the West Texas community who need or want this type of information.”

Going Above and Beyond

According to center officials, the discussion will strive to answer some of these questions:

  • How can we find the right point on the continuum between access to the general curriculum and individual needs for deaf and hard of hearing students who struggle making academic progress?
  • How can we introduce functional academic skills without restricting access to important cultural information and academic skills?
  • How can we make appropriate modifications to the curriculum using assessment information and transition planning?
  • What if we are required to use curriculum products intended for the general population such as CSCOPE or packaged core reading programs?
  • How do we know if supplemental or alternative materials we choose are in alignment with these resources?

Johnson works as the director of Summer Programs and an education specialist in the Educational Resource Center on Deafness at the Texas School for the Deaf. She has a special interest in high school transition and the special needs of students who are deaf with additional disabilities. Johnson has worked in the field of deafness for more than 30 years, holding positions in the higher education, rehabilitation and K-12 arenas.

Scogin has worked in the field of deaf education for more than 25 years. She was a classroom teacher at Denton Regional Day School Program for the Deaf for 12 years before completing a Master’s Degree in Reading Education and moving to Austin to work as a curriculum specialist at Texas School for the Deaf. Scogin has worked with students of all ages, has taught at the college level, and frequently provides professional development seminars and workshops for teachers, parents and others working with deaf students throughout the state and nation.

Registration is $20 for students and $50 for others. A wine and cheese reception will be held to honor the speakers from 5-7 p.m. Nov. 4 in the College of Education second floor foyer.

Virginia Murray Sowell Center

The Virginia Murray Sowell Center at Texas Tech is part of the College of Education.

The Virginia Murray Sowell Center at Texas Tech is part of the College of Education.

The center promotes quality research to address the academic and social needs of school-age students with visual impairments and provides public service to assist local, national and international constituencies.

The program offers master's and doctoral degrees as well as certification and endorsement in visual impairment, orientation and mobility, and deafblindness.

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