Archbishop Ryan Academy for the Deaf has a very special place in the hearts of Norwood-Fontbonne students. A long-standing relationship with the school, located in Philadelphia’s Juniata section, is just one of many aspects that makes up NFA’s fully integrated Service Learning curriculum.
NFA Junior Level Montessori Service Learning experience has a particular focus on children with hearing impairments and other disabilities. Their service includes spending a day with hearing-impaired students at Ryan in the fall. Prior to the visit, the NFA students are immersed in preparation, learning about the specific needs of individuals who are deaf. They reflect on what it might be like to be deaf, learn how individuals who are deaf communicate, learn, and play.
NFA’s distinct immersion preparation includes learning basic American Sign Language, role-playing, research activities, hearing from a guest speaker and reading books such as “I have a sister, my sister is deaf.”
The unique relationship between Ryan and Norwood-Fontbonne opens up the world for both groups, empowering each to learn from one another, becoming more aware and appreciative of differences. NFA students often reflect afterwards, “our Ryan friends are just like us!”
The relationship with the deaf community is deeply rooted in the original purpose of the Sisters of St. Joseph when they first came to the United States in the 1800’s. Archbishop Ryan School for Deaf Children was founded by the Sisters and continues to operate today with the support and guidance of the Archdiocese and dedicated teachers and staff.