First-hand lesson: Teacher inspires deaf students with a lot of heart

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A teacher in Katy is inspiring deaf children through real-life lessons that come from the heart. (KTRK)

A teacher in Katy ISD has a special connection to her students because she's experienced what many of them are going through.

Andrea Alford is deaf but can hear better thanks to a cochlear implant.

However, she works with deaf students and has been teaching for 15 years.

"Each deaf child has unique hearing loss, language needs, social and academic needs," Alford said.

Alford, who teaches at Memorial Parkway Elementary School, says her personal journey started as a toddler.

"I have a progressive hearing loss because of spinal meningitis," she explained.

By the age of 20, she was completely deaf. With the help of a cochlear implant, a device surgically implanted to help restore hearing, Alford can now hear about 89 percent.

Through the Katy ISD Regional Day School Program for the Deaf, she is not only teaching textbook lessons, but real-life lessons for her deaf students.

"I've been in their shoes, so I understand that sometimes we're viewed differently but really we're not," Alford said.

"Think about you going through the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant and they're sitting in the backseat not realizing that mom is speaking. They can't hear," she said. "That's something that I explain. When mom drives through, she's ordering food."

Alford says there's no mistake that she was supposed to be in this position.

"Just to see a student yesterday sign a complete sentence or thought. When I first met him, he just refused to sign. It's just really a blessing," Alford said.
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