Linda Castro Recognized for Special Education Contributions at Frederiksen Elementary School
Sometimes, all it takes is learning to sign the letter “N”.
Annually, the Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) takes a moment to recognize the achievements of Certificated, Classified, Administrative employees and Volunteers. This most recent event occurred on April 24, 2012 at the District boardroom. In total, 15 individuals were honored for their service to the District in the past year. Nominations were solicited in early spring from members of the community. All honorees are richly deserved; one recipient’s story, however, was particularly moving. OneDublin.org is pleased to share the journey of Linda Castro, Parent Volunteer.
Linda Castro is presently serving as a Special Education Instructor Assistant at Frederiksen Elementary School and is a mother to three children. To understand her story, we must go back 18 years. Linda and her husband migrated from the east coast and settled in San Diego. With the celebration of their first child, Brandon, other challenges followed. At 18 months of age, it was clear that Brandon was not developing like some of his peers. After polling numerous physicians, Brandon was diagnosed as being hearing impaired or deaf. This was a monumental event for the Castro family as they knew that they needed to provide every possible resource for their son.
Later, the family decided to move from San Diego to Riverside where they could enroll Brandon in the California School for the Deaf in Riverside. This move was a success. However, Brandon was very savvy and did his own research. This led him to the belief that his ultimate destination should be the California School for the Deaf in Fremont. By trusting Brandon, the family made the decision to relocate to the Bay Area two years ago. At this stage, the family was growing – there was a younger son and an infant daughter to add to the family. Nonetheless, the family decided to plant their roots in Dublin, which would provide them with access to the school site in Fremont.
With the uncertainty of Brandon’s condition, Linda years ago took it upon herself to take signing classes at Mesa Community College. She points out that there is a “Deaf Culture” that exists in every community – one that only those involved can completely understand. It is a nurturing culture and one that promotes awareness and understanding. OneDublin.org took the opportunity to help understand this odyssey and to also shed a light on those that are impacted by this condition.
OneDublin.org: Tell us how your family ultimately made it to Dublin from Southern California.
Linda Castro: “I’m originally from the east coast and we made our move here to California quite some time ago to San Diego. Brandon’s persistence about researching the California School for the Deaf in Fremont had a large influence upon our decision to move to the Bay Area.”
OneDublin.org: Throughout your children’s lives, you have not been passive. Please explain.
Castro: It is for my entire family – we all sign. But I realized that I needed to become much more engaged. I pursued jobs as resource aides not only to help others, but to also craft a path for our family. But it never ends. Brandon will be a senior at his school this fall. The mission at CSDF is that the students are fluent in both American Sign Language and English. Have there been challenges? Yes. However, he has been exposed to some great experiences.”
OneDublin.org: So you work with students at Frederiksen Elementary School each day. What tools are you employing?
Castro: “Yes, I work with students from every grade level. All of the students learn at different paces and all of them have different needs. I mostly work with kids that need help with reading and comprehension. What is apparent to me is that all of these students use different “keys” in learning. For some it is auditory and for others it is on a piece of paper. However, there are some that respond to visual keys. That is why I’ve implemented signing for students in my group and to those that I randomly encounter. When appropriate, I’ve asked my students to think additionally to an American Sign figure for a letter. Take the letter “N” as an example. For those with reading challenges, it doesn’t really matter to me what vehicle they use to gain mastery. It is always rewarding to me when a student will tell me after signing– “That’s the letter N!”
To help understand why Linda’s accomplishments are notable, we reached out to two individuals that submitted nominations for recognition on behalf of Ms. Castro. Both Brenda Gundell 1st Grade Teacher) and Suzanna Anixter (Resource Aide) at Frederiksen Elementary offered their praise of Linda to the District.
This one anecdote should sum up why she is so deserving of this honor. In her weekly work with students from K-5, Linda became aware of a young student in Brenda’s class. He is a shy boy and upon further investigation, it turns out that both of his parents are deaf. As a result, the student was somewhat withdrawn and didn’t want to discuss this matter. Once aware of this fact, Linda made an active effort to hand sign to him in a very casual manner when passing by. This later evolved into more developed conversations between the two of them as the student became more comfortable.
In March, Frederiksen hosted their annual Talent Show. Linda volunteered her time in advance to help teach this First Grade class on how to conduct the Pledge of Allegiance and to hand sign the words to “Yankee Doodle Dandy” for the performance. Earlier, Linda invited Brandon into the classroom to share his experiences as a hearing impaired person. The light went off. The young withdrawn student was immediately drawn to Brandon. “He understands and he is someone like me. Brandon is awesome.”
OneDublin.Org: Linda, in the aftermath of receiving this district recognition, how does it feel?
Castro: “I don’t know. I don’t really feel that I did anything other than what I love. For so many years I’ve been committed to the deaf culture AND the hearing world. I just feel blessed to be a part of this community in Dublin. I don’t regard this as work – it is so much more than that. Yes, I have received some congratulatory texts from some of my friends. But, I love signing – It’s my life!”