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In Memoriam: Emilyn Kirkwood

AG Bell honors the life and career of Emilyn Kirkwood.

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by Rin-rin Yu

Emilyn Kirkwood spent her career teaching students who were deaf and hard of hearing. “Lyn,” as she was called, was inspired by her mother, who taught children who were deaf, and her grandmother, who taught children who were blind. She graduated in 1967 from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas with a bachelor of arts in deaf education.

Upon graduation, Lyn joined the Peace Corps, working in Kingston, Jamaica with the Jamaica Association in Aid of the Deaf, beginning a long and dedicated career as a teacher, advocate and mentor on behalf of deaf and hard of hearing children. She married fellow volunteer, Joseph Hess, in 1968. After completion of their tours, the couple moved to New Orleans, where Lyn worked in the public schools. After Joseph’s death in 1970, Lyn relocated to Amarillo, Texas where she taught at the Amarillo Speech and Hearing Center. She spent a year abroad teaching the students who were deaf in London in 1972-73, and then returned to Amarillo, where she became a teacher supervisor and established a parent education program.

Lyn earned a master of arts in education administration from West Texas State University in 1975. By then she had married Dennis M. Kirkwood, and they welcomed their child, Emily. In 1984 Lyn began working in the Hearing-Impaired Program of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, teaching at the preschool, mentoring student teachers, and guiding families of newly-diagnosed children who were deaf and hard of hearing as a teacher consultant. She was a member of AG Bell for many years. Lyn retired in 2010. She leaves a legacy of consummate skill and professionalism, kindness and dedication, delivered with wry wit and an open heart to a legion of grateful children, families and colleagues.

“On July 28 I lost a dear friend, and the world lost a mostly unsung heroine in the world of education for young deaf and hard of hearing children,” said her friend and colleague, Barb Stark-Nemon. They met on the teaching staff in Ann Arbor. “Lyn was the maestro, running the preschool classroom with consummate professionalism, dry wit, dedication and an open heart, creating a learning environment for the children, their families and our colleagues that was engaging, productive, and also warm and safe. Lurking behind Lyn’s southern manners and charm, her curious intellect and willingness to try the new and different drew the best from those around her.”

Lyn has requested that donations be made in her memory to AG Bell.


In Memoriam: Emilyn Kirkwood

Emilyn Kirkwood dedicó su carrera profesional a la enseñanza de alumnos con sordera e hipoacusia. «Lyn», como la llamaban, se inspiró en su madre, que enseñaba a niños con sordera, y en su abuela, que enseñaba a niños con ceguera. En 1967 se graduó con una licenciatura en educación para sordos en la Trinity University de San Antonio, Texas.

Después de graduarse, Lyn se unió al Cuerpo de Paz y empezó a trabajar en Kingston, Jamaica, con la Jamaica Association in Aid of the Deaf, comenzando una carrera larga y dedicada como maestra, defensora y mentora en nombre de los niños con sordera e hipoacusia. En 1968 contrajo matrimonio con Joseph Hess, un compañero voluntario. Después de finalizar sus giras, la pareja se estableció en Nueva Orleans, donde Lyn trabajó en escuelas públicas. Tras el fallecimiento de Joseph en 1970, Lyn se trasladó a Amarillo, Texas, donde impartió enseñanza en el Amarillo Speech and Hearing Center. Entre 1972 y 1973 estuvo en Londres enseñando a alumnos con sordera y tras este periodo regresó a Amarillo, donde empezó a trabajar como supervisora ​​docente y estableció un programa de educación para padres.

En 1975 Lyn obtuvo un máster en administración del sector educativo en la West Texas State University. Para entonces ya se había casado con Dennis M. Kirkwood con quien tuvo su hija Emily. En 1984, Lyn comenzó a trabajar en el Programa para personas con discapacidad auditiva de Ann Arbor Public Schools, enseñando en preescolar, siendo mentora de alumnos de magisterio y orientando a las familias de niños con un diagnóstico reciente de sordera e hipoacusia como consultora docente. Fue miembro de AG Bell durante muchos años y se jubiló en 2010. Nos deja un extenso legado de habilidades, profesionalidad, amabilidad y dedicación, acompañados de un gran sentido del humor y un corazón abierto a una legión de niños, familias y colegas agradecidos.

«El 28 de julio perdí a una querida amiga y el mundo perdió a una heroína casi desconocida en el mundo de la educación de niños pequeños con sordera e hipoacusia», dijo su amiga y colega Barb Stark-Nemon. Se conocían desde que formaban parte del personal docente de Ann Arbor. «Lyn era la maestra, dirigiendo el aula de preescolar con una gran profesionalidad, sentido del humor, dedicación y un corazón abierto, creando un ambiente de aprendizaje para los niños, sus familias y nuestros colegas que era atrayente y productivo, además de cálido y acogedor. Detrás de los modales y el encanto sureños de Lyn, su curiosidad intelectual y su disposición a probar lo nuevo y diferente sacaban lo mejor de las personas que la rodeaban».

Lyn expresó su deseo de que se hicieran donaciones a AG Bell en su memoria.




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