Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Interview with Professor/ Author JEAN ANDREWS, PH.D.

PROFESSOR/AUTHOR JEAN ANDREWS, PH.D. BELOW **************************************************************

Dr. Jean F. Andrews is the coordinator of graduate programs in Deaf Studies/Deaf Education within the Department of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. She has served on the governance board at the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) in Austin, Texas and has been on the editorial board of the American Annals of the Deaf since 1986. Dr. Andrews began her career teaching at the Maryland School for the Deaf, I have conducted research in more than ten residential schools. On her website, she explains, “Like many of my colleagues, I recognize the value of the rich linguistic and cultural environments that well-run state schools for the deaf and large day programs that can provide full access to the dual languages: ASL and English.” Dr. Andrews is the author of the Flying Fingers Series which includes The Flying Fingers Club (1988); Secret in the Dorm Attic (1990); Hasta Luego, San Diego (1991); The Ghost of Tomahawk Creek (1993); and Mystery of the Totems (2001).

(picture of husband Jim and author Jean Andrews, Ph.D.)
SPW: How did you decide to become a teacher of the Deaf? Did you grow up with Deaf people?

JA: I went to college in Washington, DC and majored in English literature. I took an ASL class in my senior year at Gallaudet University nearby and was intrigued by the language. I went to McDaniel College (formerly Western Md College) and got my degree in deaf ed. I became immersed in the Deaf culture there. My first job was as a reading teacher at the Maryland School for the Deaf.

SPW: I recall reading that the Deaf Community played an important part of your research for writing the Flying Fingers Club Series. Can you explain your inspiration for the book?

JA: My classmates at McDaniel's, my colleagues at MSD and deaf students there and the deaf students I worked with in KY and in TX. I have many deaf colleagues around the country who I enjoy working on projects with. Deaf graduate students are a "source of inspiration and ideas" too.

SPW: Did you face any challenges as a hearing author writing about Deaf children?

JA: Yes its hard to adopt a "deaf voice" when you are hearing. Your "hearingness" naturally leaks through. That is why I always check my ideas with deaf colleagues and students. They are always very frank with me!

SPW: What advice would you give to young people who are reading your books for the first time?

JA: Read, read, read and read. It will open many doors for will provide you with many more experiences than you can get in a usual lifetime. I like to read the newspaper in the morning, professional books at work and I read lots of fiction and non-fiction in the evenings and on weekends and on vacations. I love to read book reviews in Sunday newspapers and also browse at Barnes and Noble. I love used book stores too in cities when I travel...New Orleans has some good does Houston.SPW: What are your plans for writing another book in the series?

SPW: What are your plans for writing another book in the series?

JA: I am not writing a Flying Fingers club book now...I finished five of them ( and have published them on a CD as some of them are out of print. Research with students on language and literacy keeps me pretty busy these days. But I still like to write fiction and a story idea is always running through my head. Right now I am writing a magazine article on a famous deaf lifeguard named LeRoy Colombo. He attended the Texas School for the Deaf. I visit TSD a lot as I am a strong supporter of residential schools for the deaf and we have many Lamar students who go there to work when they graduate. LeRoy lived in Galveston Island from 1905 to 1974 and saved more than 900 people. I hope to turn this article into a book eventually. TSD named their natatorium* after LeRoy Colombo.

((*Natatorium= A building constructed for the purpose of housing a swimming pool and related equipment.))

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