As the end of the year approaches, another group of children prepare to leave The Shepherd Centre and embark on a new adventure at ‘big school’. Many of these children, our ‘Class of 2014’, have been attending The Shepherd Centre since they were just a few months old, and our staff have had the privilege of watching them grow up to become unique and remarkable little people.
At Graduation, held this morning at our Newtown centre, we recognised the hard work and dedication of 32 incredible families, and said bittersweet farewells to each family as they prepare for an exciting new journey.
Also at today’s ceremony, we celebrated the achievements of our past graduates, including the Junior Past Graduate of the Year, seven-year-old Jack Carey.
Jack’s journey at The Shepherd Centre began when he was two years old, shortly after his moderate-severe hearing loss was confirmed. After receiving bilateral cochlear implants and undergoing intensive one-on-one speech therapy, Jack’s listening and language skills improved dramatically.
Jack is thriving at his school – even winning the Year 1 award for English last year! – and gets quite upset if he doesn’t get 100 per cent on his weekly spelling tests. Given his love of English, it’s not a surprise that he also has a passion for reading.
“I love listening to him read each night with his home reader, it’s one of the highlights of my day,” Jack’s mum, Renae, said. “To think that at 2 years and 11 months, I thought Jack would never talk, let alone read, and now he does it with such ease. He even puts on different voices for each character! It’s amazing.”
Another past graduate, 23-year-old Isabella Rosati, was also recognised for her achievements after The Shepherd Centre as she was named the 2014 Albert & Mary Shepherd Past Graduate of the Year.
Born profoundly deaf, Isabella’s hearing loss wasn’t diagnosed until she was two-and-a-half years old.
With little experience of hearing loss, Isabella’s mother Kerrie recalled a chance meeting at a party with The Shepherd Centre’s long-serving Listening and Spoken Language Specialist, Dr Anne Fulcher, who explained to Kerrie her work teaching deaf children how to listen and speak.
“Mum called Anne, who assured us that everything was going to be ok – and my journey at The Shepherd Centre began,” Isabella explained.
“It was the best decision my parents could have made, and one that has made a huge difference to my life. At The Shepherd Centre, I learned that life is full of opportunities. It taught me to embrace my deafness and treat it as an opportunity, not a disadvantage. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the endless opportunities and help that The Shepherd Centre gave me.”
We congratulate our award-winners, and wish all of our 2014 Graduates the very best of luck as they embark on an exciting new adventure at ‘big school’!