What do you do when you are the parent of a profoundly deaf child who you believe with all your heart can learn to talk, but have no services available to help you reach for your dreams? You start your own school. That’s exactly what eight courageous, Bay Area pioneer families did in 1967 when they took out second mortgages on their homes. They hired visionary and teacher extraordinaire, Leahea Grammatico, rented space in a church and opened the doors to what has now become an internationally recognized center of excellence for young deaf children. Earlier known as the Peninsula Oral School for the Deaf, the school was renamed the Jean Weingarten Peninsula Oral School for the Deaf later to honor a dear friend and tireless volunteer for the children and their families.
“Mrs. G” knew that deaf children could learn to listen, so in partnership with the hearing aid company, Audiotone, she developed a master hearing aid, the Audiometer, that gave the hearing aid company the information they needed to custom design hearing aids for each child. Coupled with innovative strategies to develop listening skills, these children were able to learn spoken language naturally. The legacy of paying careful attention to hearing devices continues to this day at the school, where we have the highest number of bilaterally cochlear-implanted children in the country.
The school grew and moved to larger rented facilities, and in 1991 Kathleen Daniel Sussman was hired to take the place of retiring Director, Mrs. Grammatico. As leaders in the field of deaf education, both women were committed to providing every opportunity for deaf children to take on the world with confidence, stellar language skills and the ability to be critical thinkers.
In 1993, JWPOSD finally found a permanent home in Redwood City. In 2003, The Leahea Grammatico Family Center was built on the school campus to provide services for the many infants and their families that were coming to the school as a result of the Newborn Hearing Screening Program. It serves as a warm and welcoming home for learning, spending time with other families and as a jumping off point for the next step each child will take, whether it is to one of the preschool classes in the school, or out into the mainstream.
The founders’ dreams became real for hundreds of families. Today with a teaching staff of twenty five and several part time consultants, JWPOSD provides a best practices auditory oral early intervention program, preschool classes and individual therapy sessions for mainstreamed children. We are accredited by the State of California Department of Special Education and serve as a student teaching facility for several University programs.