The Louisiana School for the Deaf (LSD) Director search process was launched on October 21, 2019, through an announcement by both the Louisiana Special School District (SSD) and Innivee Strategies. A nationwide, aggressive search and marketing for the LSD Director yielded hundreds of email conversations and recommendations. These led to video and phone interviews with prospective candidates in Deaf Education.
The Louisiana SSD and Innivee Strategies are pleased to announce the two LSD Director finalists:
- Ann Curry, M.Ed
- Dr. Heather Laine, Ed.D.
Please get to know the candidates through their bios, presentations, and interviews below. Scroll down to the bottom of the webpage for the Louisiana School for the Deaf community feedback form.
Ann Curry, M.Ed.
Ann Curry brings over twenty years of personal and professional experience to the role as Director. Ann has worn many hats in her career in deaf education, working as a freelance interpreter, collaborating with families as an early intervention provider and as a teacher of the deaf for pre-k through secondary education. She has over sixteen years of experience with administration in deaf education, both as a parent and educator.
Throughout her career, she presented and collaborated at the local, state and national levels in deaf education. Ann has provided support for grassroots organizations with successful fundraising and grant writing for both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Ann has brought equity and professional development to teams of professionals that work directly with deaf and hard of hearing students. She has mentored and coached aspiring teachers to be leaders in their fields of expertise.
Ann Curry Presentation
Hello, my name is Ann Curry. This is my sign name:
I’ve applied for the Director position at Louisiana School for the Deaf because I feel that I have the necessary skills, background, and talent to share with you all in this position.
First, I’d like to share that my involvement in the Deaf community comes from my own personal experience as a Mom. I have four children. My oldest and youngest are Deaf and the two middle children are hearing, which is how I began my journey.
I decided to move forward with my Bachelor’s Degree in Speech & Hearing Science from the University of Utah. Then our family moved to Kansas where I completed my Master’s Degree in Deaf Education. I also obtained Special Education & Early Childhood endorsements.
When I began teaching, I spent a lot of time in the early childhood and Pre-K through 12 environment. I also I went back and received an endorsement from the University of California, Irvine in Grant Writing, Non-Profit Fundraising, and Montessori Early Childhood- which is a fascinating educational system, in its own right.
I’ve worked for the State of Washington, California, Kansas, and currently, Alaska.
Now, the big concern amongst us involved in Deaf education is finding ways to lift up our Deaf students to become leaders, as well as the Deaf Staff, in becoming leaders themselves to try to help the community, expanding that nationwide and even world-wide; showing that Deaf people can do anything and everything they want to set out to do. That’s equity. I’m of the opinion that really improving the level of interpreting and improving the skills of the Teacher, building on the student’s perspective of who they are is important, and why we need strong mentors in Deaf Education.
Another thing I’ve seen is some Administrators become frustrated and burned-out when they experience failures. I believe this stems back to needing and developing a good leadership team. That team would host trainings for both hearing and deaf individuals about privilege and equity.
Often we talk about privilege, but we don’t necessarily apply it to ourselves as hearing people as well as the struggles the Deaf Community faces.
I think opening a dialogue that develops leadership skills and cohesive teams will help us make better decisions and improvements for all Deaf and hard of hearing students in any school system. But first, it starts with unpacking our own personal privilege, perceptions, and bias so we can start fresh with a new direction in showing the world how to have an accessible and equitable environment in an educational learning community.
Thank you for your time.
Ann Curry Interview
SHANE: Hello, I’m here with Ann Curry who is a finalist for a position at the Louisiana School for the Deaf. We are here for an interview to ask questions and learn a little bit more about who Ann is. Hello, Ann.
ANN: Hello, and thank you for this opportunity.
SHANE: Absolutely! The first question I have for you is “Why did you apply for the Director Position at the Louisiana School for the Deaf?”
ANN: There are several reasons but the first is to connect the School for the Deaf with the long rich history that will help the community and present opportunities to develop leadership in Deaf Education and Deaf Students. I think Louisiana needs some of what I just mentioned and I would like to be a part of that team.
PLUS I live in Alaska where it’s freezing cold and I’m ready to get back to some warmer temperatures. Also, my family lives in what’s called, “the lower 48 states” and I’m ready to be closer to them.
Also, opportunities for Deaf Schools to be recognized Nationally and Globally are important. Being an inspiration to other countries and communities involves giving them the confidence they need to do better. I believe Louisiana offers that!
SHANE: Wonderful. What makes you unique as a candidate for a leadership role at the Louisiana School for the Deaf?
ANN: Thank you for that question. My answer is lengthy but first:
When I graduated from High School I thought I would be famous and on the cover of some magazine.
As time passed, I became a mother to my oldest daughter who is deaf. That’s when I began my journey as an interpreter, educator, and administrator.
My passion truly lies in helping to develop families and communities.
My qualifications in education are well built. I believe that I offer a variety of experience and knowledge.
To be honest, I feel personally and professionally I can relate to parents and staff in various situations
For me, I want to give back what my journey has provided me; such as my qualifications as a parent, educator, administrator, and community member. I have watched Deaf Education shift throughout my long career. The experience and knowledge I’ve gained along the way have helped me deal with situations we face every day in Deaf Ed.
My BA, MA, and the other certifications that I hold allow me to contribute more to schools, communities, and students; however, the biggest inspiration that has helped me and I believe will help the School for the Deaf is my passion for mentoring and leadership development in the field of Deaf Ed.
SHANE. Definitely. If we gave your colleagues an opportunity to describe your leadership style, what would they say?
ANN: My career as an Administrator has allowed me extensive experience in dealing with a variety of people.
The aforementioned have told me I’m a strong collaborator, advocate, and I’m resourceful as someone who manages things.
My tendency is to participate instead of just tasking people with work. I want to encourage others to work on self-development as much as possible.
My staff would say that I’m creative and will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
My motto is: “I won’t ask others to do something I can’t or won’t do for myself.”
My personal expectations align with my staff’s. If they feel they need training, I’ll take the training with them. If a family needs a one-on-one meeting, I make time for them.
I don’t micromanage. I believe in “WE” and teamwork. I don’t consider myself superior, I feel we are all on the ground level doing this work.
SHANE: Fascinating. What do you foresee your greatest challenge being at the Louisiana School for the Deaf and how will you face that challenge?
ANN: From what I can tell, the biggest challenges will be:
Gaining the Community’s Trust
Trust from the Staff
Training related to new and innovative techniques
Helping the school meet the state’s standard academic requirement
Those things and showing them that they can trust me as they get to know my background and understand where my passion rests. Also, that we share similarities. My life is Deaf Ed at both work and home 24/7. Deaf Ed is not just my 9-5. I think from that we can build genuine trust build and progress moving forward.
SHANE: Very true. Now that you have the attention of community members as a potential leader of their School, can you tell us what your vision for the future of LSD looks like?
ANN: I think LSD has an opportunity to become a national leader showcasing positive progressive standards. My goal for them would be to stand confident that their school, community, and Deaf leaders will support a strong foundation built from trust and communication which fosters a sense of pride.
SHANE: Wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to interview, for community members to see who you are and what you have to offer to their school. I appreciate your time.
ANN: You’re welcome. Thank you for this opportunity.
Dr. Heather Laine, Ed.D.
Dr. Heather Laine began her career as a teacher of the Deaf in 1999 with Los Angeles County Office of Education in California. She spent seven years teaching within LACOE district. In 2006, Dr. Laine accepted an elementary teaching position with Sequoia Deaf School in Arizona. She later became an elementary assistant principal in 2009 then accepted the principal position in 2012. This year marks her eighth year as K-12 principal of Sequoia Deaf School and 20th year in the field of Deaf education. Her passion for her students in all of the years she has taught and worked with is to empower them with tools they can use to succeed out in the world.
Dr. Laine has received a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development from Gallaudet University in 1997. She returned to California State University of Northridge where she earned her Master’s degree in Deaf Education in 2005. Dr. Laine continued her education with Argosy University in Phoenix and earned her Education Doctorate degree in K-12 Teaching and Learning in 2014.
Heather Laine Presentation
Hello everyone! My name is Heather Laine and this is my name sign:
As a Deaf person, growing up, I’ve experienced what it’s like to go to a mainstream school and a Deaf School.
After graduating High School, I attended Gallaudet University where I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development.
Upon graduating from Gallaudet, I decided to go back to my home state of California, where I worked as a Para with students one-on-one in the classroom. I so enjoyed working with the students and the classroom environment! So I decided to go back to school for my Master’s in Deaf Education at California State University, Northridge/CSUN, mind you this is while I’m working as a Teacher FULL TIME. I worked in Pre-School, second, fourth, fifth grade and High School for seven years.
A job opportunity in Arizona presented itself to me, so I decided to move there. I taught kindergarten and first grade at a small charter school for the Deaf, which was considered a Day Program. I transitioned to teaching second grade and third grade and was eventually promoted to Lead Teacher and then Assistant Principal for the elementary school.
As time went on, I decided to go back to school at Argosy University, Phoenix where I earned my Education Doctorate Degree in K-12 Teaching and Learning. Meanwhile, I was promoted to Principal while earning my Degree.
To date, I have been at the same school for 14 years, but altogether I have 21 years of experience in Deaf Education.
Some of my successes can be attributed to the connections I’ve made. Like the connections with Deaf and hard of hearing students, parents, faculty, and staff. I can relate to the Deaf students as a Deaf person. I can relate to what the parents are going through because I remember what my own parents went through raising me.
I understand the teachers and staff because I share that same experience and I’m here to help and support them as they support me. My style of leadership is more of a “Transformational” approach which doesn’t mean changing everything at once. I take my time to gauge the school’s strengths, as well as, areas of concern so that we can find solutions. The three models I use are: Taking the time to listen and support the students, helping and motivating them, the Teachers and staff, and parents which make up this community. Identify who has the necessary skill sets to contribute to the success of our programs. I have a strong belief in collaboration. Working together to figure out what’s best for our students and the school.
My vision includes empowering our Deaf & Hard of Hearing students starting at an early age until 21, with the skills they need, including bilingualism (ASL & English), academics, job readiness, managing day-to-day life, and emotions, thereby being prepared for the outside world post-High School. Whether they transition to college or the workforce, we want to see our students succeed.
I hope you’ll consider picking me as your Director for the Louisiana School for the Deaf.
Thank you for your time.
Heather Laine Interview
SHANE: Hello, I’m here with Heather Laine, a finalist for the position of Director at the Louisiana School for the Deaf. Today, we’re going to take some time to get to know Heather a little bit better. Hi Heather!
SHANE: Our first question today is: “Why did you apply for the Director position at Louisiana School for the Deaf?”
HEATHER: Well, I have 21 years of experience working in Deaf Education. I feel my vast experience as a teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal makes up who I am and I feel I’m ready for this new challenge and this opportunity to bring my seasoned experience to the table to generate ideas at Louisiana School for the Deaf. My hope is that all that I have to offer will help the students thrive.
SHANE: Great response. What makes you a unique candidate for this role as Director of the Louisiana School for the deaf?
HEATHER: Well, as a Deaf person, I can easily relate and connect with Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, Deaf parents, hearing parents, and the Teachers and Staff.
And the reason I get along so well with Deaf students is because of my background. I’m able to collaborate with them effectively because we have a shared experience. I know what they’ve been through.
I interact well with parents, especially hearing parents because I grew up in a hearing family and I understand what they’re going through.
With teachers and staff, we share similar work ethics in working hard to do what’s best for students and with that same mindset of helping support teachers and staff in doing the same.
SHANE: Excellent. If we gave your colleagues an opportunity to describe your leadership style, what would they say?
HEATHER: I think they would say that I really care. That I care about my students but also my teaching staff plus I’m a highly motivated person. I will go above and beyond the call of duty to do what’s best for our students and school.
Whether at school or at home, 24/7 I’m constantly thinking about what’s best for students and how can I better provide support to teachers and a plethora of other things.
Even now, as I’m working from home my mind is constantly thinking of things I can be doing!
SHANE: What do you foresee being the biggest challenge in your potential role and how would approach it?
HEATHER: I think the biggest challenge will be the “newness” of the school for me. For example, learning the school culture, building relationships because there’s no possible way of knowing everything and everyone instantaneously in one day. It will take time to build relationships and understand the school culture and hopefully my experience and everything that I bring to the table have a positive impact on the school and campus
SHANE: If you’re hired as Director, with your past experience, what would be your vision for LSD?
HEATHER: I feel strongly that by working together and collaborating we can find the best solutions for our students, especially post High School.
We want to make sure our students have the tools they need, especially a strong foundation in both ASL & English. Being bilingual and having the skills they need to be employable, as well as a variety of other skills is needed to find balance navigating two worlds, the Deaf & Hearing world.
At schools for the Deaf, life on campus is easier because we understand each other, however, after high school, life is different and we want to make sure they have the skills necessary to succeed.
For example, at my school, we teach students how to work with hearing people in general, how to search for employment, how to really find a job that fits them individually. There are many great jobs out there, especially with technology these days. They can work anywhere, not just at the schools for the deaf. It’s important that my vision includes encouraging students to be successful.
SHANE: Definitely! Thank you for taking the time to record your interview so that the community can watch and learn more about who you are and what type of leader you are. Again, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.
HEATHER: Thank you!
Community Feedback Instructions
Please visit the Google Form for the Community Feedback Survey at:
Answer six multiple-choice questions about the candidate.
You may submit a one-paragraph or one-minute video providing your general impression of the candidate.
If you wish to submit a one-minute video, please share an unlisted/private YouTube link in the comment field. If you are not sure how to create or share an unlisted/private YouTube video please search the Internet for instructions.
DEADLINE FOR COMMUNITY FEEDBACK: Tuesday, April 7, 2020