Gallaudet president visits KSD for multiple events
Text by CAROLYN GULLEY
Gallaudet Alumni Association
The Kentucky Chapter of Gallaudet University Alumni Association along with Kentucky School for the Deaf hosted the 45th annual Gallaudet & Clerc banquet in Grow Hall at KSD Thursday evening. Gallaudet University President Dr. Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano was the featured speaker.
Earlier in the day President Cordano spoke to directly to KSD elementary, middle school, and high school students.
Later in the afternoon, Dr. Cordano and other GU staff and KSD students and visitors met at the graves of Rev. John Rice Kerr and his wife for a wreath placing ceremony next to The Presbyterian Church. Rev. Kerr and his wife were KSD’s first superintendent and matron.
The GUAA and KSD traditionally celebrate Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc who started the first school for the deaf in America in Hartford, Connecticut. KSD was the fourth school for the deaf to be established in America, but it was the first state supported school for the deaf in America.
Dr. Gallaudet was sent to France to study methods to teach the deaf after meeting a deaf girl, Alice Cogswell who was sitting alone separated from a group of children who were playing. He asked one of the children why Alice was not playing with them and a boy told him that the girl was deaf. So he decided to try to talk to her by using his cane to make out the word H A T in the sand displaying his hat to Alice and pointing out the word to her.
She quickly responded knowing what the word meant and printed the word on the sand. When her father, Dr. Cogswell, came by to get her he talked to Gallaudet who showed him what had been done.
Dr. Cogswell was shocked and emotional that his daughter could learn. He asked if Gallaudet would go to France to learn more about how to teach the deaf. He gladly accepted.
Gallaudet met Laurent Clerc, who was also deaf, in France. Later, Gallaudet asked Clerc to come to America and help establish a school for the deaf. The two men traveled across the ocean for 52 days during which Gallaudet taught Clerc English while Clerc taught Gallaudet sign language.
The two men then established the first school for the deaf in America in Hartford and Dr. Cogswell’s daughter Alice was one of the first deaf students enrolled at the school.