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Laurent Clerc History Presentation at PS 347 in Manhattan

PS 47 The American Sign Language and English Secondary School in Manhattan, NYC is a special place. It is the first school that Laurent Clerc Holt has visited that has a large portion of its student population who are CODA (Children of Deaf Adults). Here Deaf and CODA students work alongside a growing hearing student population.

What happens when an elementary teacher, Eileen, wishes to promote more Deaf history during Deaf History month this year. She does not call Ghost busters but she calls Flat Laurent! And as his friend Laurent traveled with him down to PS 47 this year on April 3rd.

PS 47 is one of those imposing NYC buildings. Built in the halcyon days of expanding education.

Flat Laurent and I were at the school today to be introduced to this unique resource and to present the story of Laurent Clerc to 3 different age groups. This was a first for Flat Laurent and Laurent but we had spent some time with Eileen developing presentations that were age appropriate for each group. Eileen had connected with Laurent after learning of the Laurent Clerc Stamp Project from her principal, Pam. She had been an artist in residence at the American School for the Deaf last year and had produced a wonderful art module supporting the Laurent Clerc Stamp Project.

Over that morning in April 2023, Laurent Clerc Holt presented the history of Laurent Clerc’s contribution to early Deaf education and the evolution of American Sign Language. The kids were engaged and interested in the story, asking excellent questions about this role model of education for the times.

Satisfied, if not a little fatigued, Laurent Clerc Holt and Flat Laurent were treated to a lovely catered lunch by some of the staff of PS 47. We ate and talked about Deaf education and Laurent Clerc’s contribution. In the room was Carey, a direct relative of Melville Ballard, student and friend of Laurent Clerc. This was the first time I had ever met a relative of one of Laurent Clerc’s students. Plans were made to explore this connection further.

What a great experience and I was so grateful for the warm reception. Appreciated the opportunity to hone my craft and present it to some many students. Thank you Eileen and Pam.


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