Success for students with hearing loss

March 18, 2021

Success for students with hearing loss

West Shore School News is a presentation of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press.

By Sarah Hresko

West Shore ESD

Imagine you have a hearing loss. You wear hearing aids or have cochlear implants to help you hear. They allow you to have conversations in a quiet one on one setting, especially when you know the topic and the person talking. But sometimes you still miss what people say. You have to listen very closely all day so you can follow along, and that can be tiring.  On top of that you are only 8 years old. You sit at your desk and your classmates are shuffling papers, tapping their pencils, opening and closing their own desks, all while you are trying to understand your teacher’s new math lesson. If only there was something to make this a little easier for you.

That’s where my job comes in. I’m Sarah Hresko. As a teacher consultant for deaf and hard of hearing students I have the opportunity to provide assistive listening technology for children with hearing loss through West Shore Educational Service District. Small microphones that teachers wear during instruction can bluetooth directly into the student’s hearing aids or cochlear implants.

This allows the student to hear the teacher’s voice in their ear over the normal noise of a classroom. This way, the student can focus on the academic content of the lesson, and they do not have to strain to hear their teacher. When asked how their microphones help them in class, these were the responses from students; Tiana, age 11 in the fifth grade, Ludington Area School District, “It helps me hear teachers or students, like if I’m in a group I can put it on the table and I can hear my friends.”; Colton, age 11 in the fifth grade, Shelby School District, “The mini mic helps me listen to my teacher and listen to my group during reading and writing.

During National Geographic reading, whoever is reading, I give my mic to that person and I can hear them better, and my friends will pass the mic to whoever is reading.”; Mallie, age 11 in the fifth grade, Mason County Central School District, “So I can hear my friends when they are reading or talking. If I didn’t have my microphone it would be hard for me to hear people.”; Katelynn, age 8 in the second grade, Mason County Central School District, “It helps me so I can hear my teacher. If I don’t use it I have to try harder to listen.”

Another service West Shore ESD provides is Ear Lab. This allows any student in Mason, Lake, or Oceana counties to receive a free in depth hearing test from certified audiologist, Deborah Hale.

This service is valuable to identify children with hearing loss in our local communities. Often teachers and other service providers refer children that they suspect might have a hearing loss. Just this past year Ear Lab identified a kindergartener named Jared with permanent hearing loss in Ludington Area School District. As a result of hearing testing at Ear Lab, this child was referred to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, fitted with hearing aids, and now receives my teacher consultant services.

Jared’s father said, “Sarah has been with us every step of the way, assisting Jared in receiving the help he needs to be successful at school. Once he received his hearing aids, Sarah was in the classroom that very next day. She was there to not only help Jared, but to help his teacher and classmates with the adjustments that needed to be made for success. Sarah went over the acoustics of the classroom, making sure Jared was in the correct spot for the best hearing. She tried surround sound speakers, Bluetooth microphones, and other things to make sure that Jared was hearing the best he could. She taught the teacher how to change the hearing aid batteries and the classroom about hearing aids. She’s a true educator. Sarah will follow Jared all the way through school, from K-12. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that our son will have Sarah as an advocate all the way through the years until the day he graduates!”

Although children with hearing loss can be at a disadvantage in the general education classroom, the services and equipment I am able to provide through WSESD are key in ensuring their success and self confidence. I am thankful to be able to work with these amazing children and their families.

If you have concerns about your child’s hearing, please contact me, Sarah Hresko, Teacher Consultant for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students, at, or (231) 757-1617. See the Flyer for more information on Ear Lab this May!

Ear Lab flyer

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