RIT/NTID faculty and student researchers are developing methods to analyze the effects of flavorings used in electronic cigarettes. In partnership with RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering and the University of Rochester Medical Center, RIT/NTID, the world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, is part of the team that has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the study. More.
Lisa Johnston has joined the faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as a member of the American Sign Language & Interpreting Education Department.
Johnston holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Gallaudet University and a master’s degree in sign language studies from the University of Arizona, focusing on signed language and deaf studies, curriculum development and pedagogy, and American Sign Language. Her thesis focused on the process of acquiring ASL as a second language for teachers of deaf students in academic settings.
Her major academic interests are literature, Deaf culture, teaching ASL as a first and second language, linguistics of signed language, ASL assessment and diagnostics, curriculum development and pedagogy, and first and second language acquisition. She has taught courses in all levels of ASL, as well as “Narrative and Poetic Styles in ASL,” “Current Trends in Deaf-related Careers” and others.
She holds professional certification from the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA), and serves as an ASLTA evaluator. She is a former board member of Deaf Women of Rochester, served on ASLTA’s Greater Rochester chapter, and served on the education/training subcommittee of the National Center for Deaf Health Research at the University of Rochester.
Prior to joining the faculty, Johnston was a faculty member teaching American Sign Language at RIT, the University of Rochester, Gallaudet University, Riverside Community College in Riverside, California, and the University of Arizona, Tucson.
She enjoys travel and water-related activities. Her two children are being raised in combined Deaf, Greek, and American cultures.
Excelling in teaching and in research, RIT faculty members are passionate about their disciplines and their roles, both in the classroom and the lab. They engage students in the process of discovery and the contribution of new knowledge to their fields. RIT faculty enjoy interacting with students, and they push the boundaries of both personal and professional potential, both for themselves and their students. Their commitment, drive and student-centered focus are hallmarks of this great university.
Laural Hartman has joined the faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf a lecturer in the Visual Communication Studies Department, teaching core courses such as Drawing and Principles of Design and Color.
Born and raised in the Los Angeles area where she attended TRIPOD, Hartman graduated from RIT/NTID in 2005 with a BFA in Illustration and went on to earn a master’s degree in NTID’s Master of Science program in Secondary Education of Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in 2007. Her husband, Jeff is a fellow RIT/NTID alumnus who works as a systems administrator for Convo Communications. They have a one-year-old son named Holden.
After graduating from RIT/NTID, Hartman moved to San Francisco where she bought an antique press and established her own letterpress shop, Dirty Beard Press. Prior to moving back to Rochester, she taught high school at The Learning Center for the Deaf (now Marie Philips School) in Framingham, Massachusetts. She continues to run Dirty Beard Press on weekends.
Her custom work has been exhibited at The Berkeley Art Center, the Minna Gallery in San Francisco and the Delaplaine Gallery in Frederick, Maryland.
“We are fortunate to have another talented member of our alumni community back on campus as part of the faculty,” said Dr. Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “Laural brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our students and serves as a role model for them.”
Alesia Nicole Allen has joined the faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Liberal Studies.
Allen teaches introductory courses in Psychology and Abnormal Psychology.
A native of Ohio, Allen attended RIT/NTID and earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2004. She earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Gallaudet University, and expects to defend her dissertation in 2016 and earn a Ph.D. from Gallaudet in Clinical Psychology.
She is the recipient of the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program Achievement Award, Officer Appreciation Award and Outstanding Advocacy Award presented by NTID’s Student Government for advocating the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing people on campus. She also was honored for her service to the Philadelphia community for providing services for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals with mental health concerns.
“In my opinion, teaching goes beyond the classroom and also consists of advising and mentoring,” Allen said. “This is critical because I believe effective teaching involves building rapport and being sensitive to students’ needs. Another important responsibility involves scholarship and staying up to date with research trends in the field. Currently, I am working on completing my dissertation which focuses primarily on hard-of-hearing individuals and their overall psychological well-being. I encourage students to get involved in research and provide support to them in their efforts. Finally, there’s a service component of my job. Service initiatives may include getting involved on committees to help provide feedback on improving goals of the department, mentoring students, or getting involved in some efforts to help Rochester community.”
“We are pleased to have Alesia back at RIT/NTID as a member of our faculty,” said Dr. Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “She is an outstanding example of all that is possible with an RIT/NTID education, and is a true role model for our students.”
Talila A. Lewis, a faculty member in liberal studies at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, was one of nine disability advocates from across the United States selected as “Champions of Change” by the White House. A recognition event—which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act—was held in Washington, D.C., earlier this summer.
Lewis, an activist and attorney whose research primarily focuses on creating equal access to the legal system for individuals who are deaf and for people with disabilities, created the only national database of deaf prisoners and is one of the only people in the world working on deaf wrongful conviction cases. Lewis advocates with and for hundreds of deaf defendants, prisoners and returned citizens and trains justice, legal and corrections professionals about various disability related concerns. In addition, Lewis has been the force behind social justice campaigns including #DeafInPrison, Deaf Prisoner Phone Justice, and the American Civil Liberties Union’s “Know Your Deaf Rights” campaign. Lewis is also the founder and director of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf, or HEARD, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that works to correct and prevent wrongful convictions of deaf people, end abuse of incarcerated people with disabilities, decrease recidivism rates for deaf returned citizens, and increase representation of the deaf in the justice, legal and corrections professions.
“I am so very humbled to be counted among disability justice advocates who are pushing us all to challenge the status quo,” said Lewis. “Endless gratitude to those who have supported this community-led effort and to those I serve who remind me daily, the power of community accountability, resilience and love-infused activism.”
According to the website, the Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, go to www.whitehouse.gov/champions.
Providing experiential learning opportunities and establishing strong connections with his students are two contributors to Christopher Kurz’s success in the classroom. His triumphs are the result of thought-provoking and practical applications of his lessons and his ability to adapt his teaching style and philosophy to meet the changing needs of his diverse students.
Kurz, an associate professor in NTID’s secondary education of students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing master’s program and a 1995 graduate of RIT’s applied mathematics program in the College of Science, is one of this year’s recipients of the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching. Kurz helps develop the talents of his students who will soon re-enter classrooms around the world in a different capacity — as educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing secondary students.
“My inspiration comes from seeing my students improve their skills, grow, become professionals,” he said. “I have also learned to connect deeper with my students and learn more about where they come from, what they bring to the table. My students and I — we have a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Kurz is also known for making his lessons come alive. For several years, he has taught deaf history courses in which students examine artifacts like school diaries written by deaf students in the 19th century, war-era dollar bills that were published by a school for the deaf during wartime, and antiquated instructional materials to catch a glimpse into what life was like for deaf people over the past 400 years. He also enlists a technique called “Theatre in Education,” where actors dressed as Edward Gallaudet, Alexander Graham Bell and other famous pioneers in deaf history entertain and educate through debates designed to spark conversations about deaf life and issues in deaf education from decades past. Kurz’s students also develop partnerships and curricular and historical research projects alongside Rochester School for the Deaf that, accordingly to Kurz, is rich in local deaf history.
“I want to be a driving force in raising the bar for students in the field of deaf education,” he added. “I’m a product of deaf education, so it’s important for me to be a catalyst in educating and preparing the next generation of teachers of the deaf.”
Rochester Institute of Technology’s team of astrophysicists and astronomers are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, and pushing his work forward. The video features RIT/NTID faculty Dr. Jason Nordhaus and his work with deaf and hard-of-hearing students at RIT.
Adding to his remarkable achievements in and out of the classroom, Todd Pagano, associate professor of chemistry and director of the Laboratory Science Technology program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, has been named to the Fulbright Specialist Program. The program, which provides Fulbright Specialists two- to six-week grants, promotes linkages between U.S. scholars and professionals in select disciplines and their counterparts at host institutions in more than 140 countries around the world. Pagano is still waiting for word on where he might be placed.
“The globalization of science is upon us,” said Pagano in his Fulbright application. “Today, scientists and corporations work across borders and diverse cultures. U.S. professors are increasingly involved with students from diverse cultures, while attempting to teach all students to be ‘global citizens.’ My goal is to develop ways to improve the teaching of chemistry while substantially broadening opportunities in the field for traditionally underserved students in an effort to narrow gaps in the attainment of education and employment in the field. I would like to work with host institutions to develop chemistry curricula and establish sustainable programs, interventions, and research opportunities for disadvantaged students.”
At NTID, Pagano developed the Laboratory Science Technology program, the world’s only chemical technology program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. In 2012, he was named U.S. Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He has also received the American Chemical Society Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, sponsored by The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, and the Stanley Israel Medal for Diversity in Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. He is an American Chemical Society Fellow and was named to Rochester Business Journal’s ‘Forty Under 40’ list of professionals who have made significant community contributions. He has also earned two faculty humanitarian awards as well as RIT’s Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching.
“As a scientist, my hypothesis is that my interactions abroad would uncover fundamental differences in approaches to serving students in educational science programs, but also deep-rooted similarities in the innate care and desire for populations to help those who are less fortunate,” added Pagano. “I am excited about the prospect of extending my quest to broaden educational and research opportunities for underserved students overseas, and believe the Fulbright Specialist program is the ideal vehicle to do so.”
For nearly 20 years, Joe Hamilton has been behind the scenes of more than 100 productions at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. But he’s not only behind the scenes, he and his theater practicum students have also designed and constructed those scenes.
Each year, 300 to 600 RIT/NTID students are involved in NTID Performing Arts, whether they perform, design and construct sets, paint, learn about lighting, apply theatrical make-up or work in the costume shop. About 20 or 30 students each semester work with Hamilton, spending much of their time measuring, hammering, drilling or painting in a workshop behind the Robert F. Panara Theatre.
Hamilton, a fourth-generation deaf individual who graduated from RIT/NTID in 1990 with a degree in manufacturing process, started work at NTID in 1996. As stage manager, he fulfills all technical director duties for NTID’s cultural and creative studies program, and this fall completed work on his 100th production. He keeps a log of notes from each production in his office, and when he can, he’ll slip the number of his current production into the set, such as “102” as the house number on a set during the NTID Holiday Show.
“I am a handyman. I enjoy building anything from blueprints,” Hamilton said. “I enjoy working with the students, and working with my hands, combining creativity, artistry and mechanics.”
Two of his most challenging productions were Peter Pan in 2002, in which characters had to go airborne, and The Diary of Anne Frank in 2001, where a 20-by-20-foot window was built and lifted in the air to reveal the characters who appeared to be hiding in a basement.
“He’s always finding a new solution and solving problems,” said Aaron Kelstone, program director for NTID’s Performing Arts. “I’m surprised how patient he is. He’s got 20 to 30 people all day around him asking him what’s next, and he has to make sure they aren’t getting hurt and aren’t doing something wrong.”
Chris Brucker, an architecture major from Schenectady, N.Y., joined Hamilton’s classes because he loved woodshop in high school.
“He is always very patient when it comes to teaching students who are inexperienced in woodshop,” Brucker said. “He always uses visual teaching instead of giving a lecture since the majority of deaf students depend on visual learning, so students always learn something new every day.”
Brucker said he learned skills in Hamilton’s shop that he’ll use after college. “I can remodel a house, fix electrical things, even build an entire house, and I owe it all to technical theater.”
Hamilton says making a difference in his students’ lives and seeing their work come to life on the stage is his main reward.
“I love working here,” Hamilton said. “It’s a very challenging job that keeps me going.”
For a closer look at Joe Hamilton’s work, go to bit.ly/NTIDBackStage.