Posted Date: 05/17/2021
Debbie Patton is In The Spotlight
Debbie Patton’s interest in ASL all started when she was attending East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. She wasn’t quite sure what her career path would be, so when someone suggested taking ASL I she thought to give it a try. As she took the class, the language came very natural to her so she decided to continue on and take ASL II. Her involvement did not stop there though. Debbie decided to join and become the Vice President of the Silent Friends Club at ECU. The Silent Friends Club is an ASL club that has been established for Deaf/Hard of Hearing students and hearing students who are interested in ASL and the Deaf community.
During her time at ECU, Debbie met Deaf individuals such as Orllie, Dalshell Reagle, Donna Fine, David Harman, Tony Kirby, and many more. Debbie loved hanging out with this group and said that spending time with them was the best way she learned ASL.
Debbie ended up graduating from ECU with a Bachelor's degree in Services to the Deaf and a minor in Social Work. She was still unsure of exactly what she wanted to do after graduation so she decided to become an interpreter.
Debbie became certified and interpreted at Edison Middle School and High School in Tulsa, ECU and Broken Arrow, plus part-time for Sorenson for 19 years. During those later years she began to consider what it would be like to teach. So she went and took classes to become Deaf Education certified. When her interpreting career had come to a close, Debbie took her first teaching position in Broken Arrow within their Deaf Ed program.
She found her love for teaching during that time but knew it wasn’t where she would stay to retire. She felt a tug in her heart to move closer to home in Stratford so she could be near her parents. In the search for a job, Debbie put in her application at OSD. Growing up north of Stratford, she always knew about OSD and thought it to be the ideal place to work and applied.
The Friday before school started Debbie received a call from Sulphur public schools in need of a FACS teacher. Debbie accepted so she could finally get closer to her parents. It was during that time she checked on her application at OSD, only to find out it had been lost. Debbie resubmitted her application and was hired at OSD the following year.
When Debbie came to OSD she fell in love with the language and culture in a new way. She loved the communication access that was taking place by everyone signing and interacting fluidly.
Debbie has since been here at OSD for 7 years and has taught English, Math, Science, Reading and Social Studies. Her favorite subject to teach though is reading.
Debbie says, “Reading is my favorite subject because when you incorporate ASL, the story just comes alive. It provides the kids with understanding, and that is my favorite part of teaching.”
Debbie has truly enjoyed her time here at OSD. She credits this school to having wonderful comradery between the teachers and staff and loves the support between them all. She loves how access to communication through ASL is a benefit that OSD offers.
“ASL opens up the door to education and understanding for the kids. It opens up the door for them to be able to learn about the world in a way they may not be able to otherwise.”
Debbie has spent the last 36 years in the school system. Her role as an interpreter filled 19 of those years while the final 17 were as a teacher. Debbie has decided to retire this year and although it is exciting for her, it is also sad. She looks forward to the opportunities that come with retirement such as getting to enjoy her gardening, wreath making, jewelry making, and traveling.
“All my career has been working with the Deaf and I have totally enjoyed it”
Thank you, Debbie for your years spent investing into the lives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children in a variety of settings. We hope you enjoy your retirement and all it has to offer.