ARE YOU AN ALUM?
We want to hear from you! The development team at MOSD is working on connecting with our alumni, so if you are an alum we would love for you reach out to us. Please complete this form and let us know how you'd like to be involved!
Since 1959, hundreds of children have graduated from MOSD and have become productive citizens in our community. Their journeys are the proof of investing in early intervention.
Mandy, a graduate of the MOSD Class of 1989, was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss at the age of 14 months, following a 14-day battle with meningitis at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. At the time, Mandy’s family lived in Batesville, MS, and there were few options in the mid-south for children with hearing loss. After exhausting several options, Mandy’s family decided that oral education was the best way forward for them.
“My parents researched all options and don’t actually recall how they first learned of MOSD,” says Mandy, “They wanted to try any option that would prepare me for what is a hearing-oriented world, and after learning of MOSD, felt it gave me the best option.”
After her time at MOSD, Mandy advanced to mainstream school. She graduated from Hernando High School in Hernando, MS, in 2003, and received her Cosmetology Certificate from Northwest Mississippi Community College in 2005. She now works as a licensed cosmetologist, and says that thanks to her time at MOSD, as well as her bilateral cochlear implants, she is able to communicate with clients effectively.
“Being able to talk with my clients is very important, as I have to understand how they want their hair or their children’s hair done (cut, style, length, color,etc.)”
Outside of work, Mandy enjoys spending time with her family, particularly with outdoor activities like camping, swimming, and off-roading. She is married and has two sons – one is a junior at Ole Miss as of 2023, and the other is entering 5th grade.
Mandy also says that families whose children have been diagnosed with hearing loss should make sure they are aware of all the options available to them, and make the decision that is best for their situation.
“That needs to be a personal decision for each family. They should explore all options as new things are becoming available.”
Mitch was born with profound hearing loss in both ears, and received bilateral cochlear implants just after his first birthday in 2010. He first attended speech therapy sessions at Memphis Oral School for the Deaf in May of that same year, where his hearing with the new implants was estimated to be that of someone with only mild hearing loss.
Mitch made great progress during his time in speech therapy, and one year later he moved on to MOSD preschool. Mitch continued to excel in class, meeting speech and hearing benchmarks appropriate for his age all throughout his three years at our school. He graduated in May of 2013, and successfully entered kindergarten alongside and on the same level as his hearing peers.
Now a Freshman at Christian Brothers High School, Mitch is able to speak and hear completely independently. He and his family remain very close to MOSD, and Mitch has recently spearheaded multiple fundraising initiatives for our organization. For last year’s SpeakEasy auction, Mitch personally visited local businesses in the Germantown area to collect dozens of gift cards, which he combined into a “gift card tree” to place in the auction. The tree was a huge success, and sold for over $3,000. The item is planned to be a yearly fixture at SpeakEasy from this point onward, and has been dubbed “Mitch’s Tree”.
Mitch also took it upon himself later in the year to organize an “out-of-uniform day” at his school. Students paid to wear casual clothing on a designated Friday, and all funds raised were donated to MOSD. In September, he presented MOSD with a check for $2,000 collected from the fundraiser at the MOSD's annual golf tournament. All told, Mitch was single-handedly responsible for raising over $5,000 for MOSD in 2022.
We are enormously grateful for the support of Mitch and his family, and the hard work they put forth to ensure children can continue to experience the world of sound through MOSD. We’re also extremely proud of him for his growth both in his hearing loss journey and in life, and can’t wait to see what his future has in store. From all of us at Memphis Oral School for the Deaf: thank you, Mitch!
Aurice was diagnosed at 8 weeks old with hearing loss and received hearing aids at 3 months old. Like many other students, Aurice had a progressive hearing loss, making her a candidate for cochlear implants. With the help of her audiologist, teachers and therapists at MOSD, she learned language and was able to mainstream into Immaculate Conception Cathedral School. Reading is her favorite subject. She plays piano, soccer, basketball, ballet, and she is working on her yellow belt in Taekwondo. She loves Star Wars and Pokémon. Aurice is able to talk just like her hearing peers, equipping her for an independent life.
Abbey was born profoundly deaf and received one cochlear implant at age 2. Early intervention, audiological services, and therapy at MOSD prepared Abbey to mainstream into her local kindergarten program. Abbey stopped receiving speech therapy by 2nd grade because her clarity of speech was parallel to that of her hearing peers. She graduated from high school in May 2016 and is now enrolled in the Shackhols Honors College at Mississippi State University. She has received a full scholarship from the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program and is majoring in elementary education.
Brantley attended MOSD in the early 90s when audiological technology was beginning to advance and improve. Even with having just one cochlear implant, specialized teachers and therapists helped him learn language. He was able to mainstream into Bartlett Elementary with no need for sign language. He attended University of Memphis and was active in the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc and Alpha Kappa Psi business professional fraternity. He is a songwriter, comedian, and currently works at the Army Management Staff Colllege. "I found my way to be one of a kind."
Click below for more MOSD alumni stories!
Marlee has dance practice each Thursday after school. There are so many miracles wrapped up inside of our weekly routine that for many other children, is just a typical activity. For Marlee, dancing to music she hears is anything but typical. Diagnosed with hearing loss at one month old and progressing to profoundly deaf by four months, Marlee’s family feared she would not be able to participate in many activities that hearing children enjoy. Marlee began therapy at Memphis Oral School for the Deaf when she was four months old and the outlook for her future began to change. She received bilateral cochlear implants two days after her first birthday and continued therapy at MOSD until she began in their full time preschool program at just 22 months old. “The hardest thing I have had to do is send Marlee to school every day at such a young age, but that first year confirmed what I knew in my heart--that MOSD would change her life.” In her very first year of school, Marlee experienced 14 months of language growth in only seven months. “We witness miracles in her life every day because of the instruction Marlee has received at school. Our family is forever thankful for Memphis Oral School for the Deaf for the hope it gave us in the beginning, the communication skills and confidence it has given Marlee, and the lifelong friendships our family has made.” Marlee loves to swim, dance, and sing. She wants to be a teacher, baseball player, and a dancer when she grows up.
Brittany and her oldest brother were both born profoundly deaf to hearing parents. Brittany received one cochlear implant when she was four years old, missing several years of critical language development. Through aural and speech therapy, Brittany developed language, allowing her to lead an independent life. Brittany mainstreamed into her local kindergarten in the early 1990's and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Memphis in 2009. For more than five years, Brittany held the position of Engagement Manager at Cochlear Americas which gave her the opportunity to travel around the world educating people with hearing loss and sharing the benefits of cochlear implants. For fun, Brittany loves sports and is very competitive!
Owen was born on February 14, 2013, the perfect valentine to his parents. Hours after he was born, his family knew they would be walking a road with lots of new challenges. With no history of hearing loss in their family, it was a shock when Owen failed his newborn hearing screening. Owen’s listening journey did not begin right away because his family had to address other medical issues that Owen was born with. After extensive procedures and additional testing, Owen’s hearing loss was finally diagnosed. “As a mother, I was terrified. The University of Memphis discovered that he was bilaterally profoundly deaf. We tried hearing aids, which didn’t work. Finally, we were told he needed cochlear implants. It was the best thing that has ever happened to us and it was such a success!” Even though Owen began to hear when he was 15 months old, Owen’s spoken language skills grew exponentially and after three years at MOSD, he has age-appropriate language compared to his hearing peers. “We are SO thrilled with how far he has come, thanks to our MOSD family.” Owen LOVES being outdoors! He loves riding tractors, hunting, fishing, planting, and playing all kinds of ball! He loves to sing and dance and when it’s raining, he likes to play “teacher” with his sister, Kynlee.
Check out Owen talking in the classroom with Ms. Holly!!! Listen Here
Olivia was born profoundly deaf and received cochlear implants when she was 12 months old. Just before her 2nd birthday, Olivia began MOSD Preschool and her spoken language journey. While hesitant at first, Olivia’s family saw the long days at school pay off. “When she started Ms. Abby's class, she could only say a few words such as ‘uh-oh’ and 'Momma.' By the end of her first year at MOSD, she was saying complete sentences such as, 'I want more snack, please.' Olivia’s vocabulary and articulation increased tremendously by her 2nd year. She began reciting poems, nursery rhymes, and song lyrics.” Olivia’s progress with spoken language has given her family hope and confidence for her future. Most recent testing revealed a growing vocabulary that is advanced for her age when compared to her hearing peers. She entered kindergarten completely independent. “Most people do not realize she is deaf when they talk to her. This is what MOSD has done for our family-- they have taken a profoundly deaf child who could only speak a few words and turned her into a little girl who can talk for hours!“ Olivia loves music and singing. She loves to read, listen to stories, and loves to tell jokes. Olivia wants to be a mermaid or a doctor when she grows up or “retired like Grams." “Thank you, MOSD, for teaching our little girl to listen and talk!”
Olivia loves watching the movie, "Annie", and loves to sing! Watch Here
Tyler is a proud graduate of MOSD and leads an independent and successful adult life. He now lives in Houston, TX and works for Hewlett Packard as a supply chain analyst. Tyler is working with the Houston Ear Research Foundation and Cochlear Corporation in a study on the upgrade from a Freedom processor to the Nucleus 6. Tyler is a perfect candidate for this study because he is incredibly particular about the programming of his implant and has always used every feature each of his implants have offered. He loves to swim and is a member of the Masters Swimming Program in Houston. He is active in church and other local adult programs.
One look at his smile and they knew he was meant for them. Jane and Warren Hayes adopted Kase from China in 2014 despite his diagnosis of being deaf. “The agency explained that if we were not comfortable with his special needs, we could return the file and they would send us another to review. However, our hearts had already been captured from just the one picture they sent us.” The Hayes had no idea what it would be like to have a deaf child, but learned quickly that Kase’s hearing loss would impact the entire family. They considered learning sign language but chose an oral education path instead. Kase wears a BAHA (bone-anchored hearing aid) that allows him to hear. “Since the day we brought him home from China, we have seen him make giant leaps in adaptation and learning. We completely attribute this to the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf. Although we have to drive him close to 200 miles each day, it has been worth every second of what he has gained through their program. Through gentle persuasion, loving hearts, and genuine kindness, they have truly laid a solid foundation for Kase to transition into Kindergarten.“ Kase wants to be a policeman when he grows up.
"Lewis was adopted from China at 15 months old in April 2013 and we realized he was deaf several months after returning to the United States. Upon learning of his disability, we reached out to Memphis Oral School for the Deaf where we were educated and counseled in effectively navigating the possibility of obtaining cochlear implants. Dr. McDonald implanted Lewis at 23 months four days before Christmas (best Christmas present ever) and he was enrolled at MOSD in January 2014 on his second birthday. Lewis graduated from MOSD in May 2018 with the necessary skills to be mainstreamed thanks to the teaching and guidance of the caring teachers, audiologists, and therapists. He loves his new school Marshall Academy - Home of the Patriots - and wants to be an engineer when he grows up so he can drive Thomas the Train. He is a very happy little boy and we are very thankful every day for the opportunity MOSD has provided to Lewis, it is an absolute blessing." - Dan and Ellen Gaw, proud parents
Alyssa was born with congenital birth defects of her left ear known as microtia and atresia. One ear did not fully develop, resulting in a unilateral conductive hearing loss. This was the beginning of a new journey for Alyssa’s family.
"Our life abruptly changed from welcoming this sweet girl into our family to a whirlwind of appointments. We were sent to MOSD and things began to fall into place. They helped ground us in this new adventure." - Kelley Counce, Alyssa's mother
Through early intervention, Alyssa’s parents, Kelley and Gene Counce, learned about the MOSD Sound Beginnings program. They found a community where Alyssa could learn early on how to thrive despite her unilateral hearing loss, as well as be around peers with similar challenges. Alyssa’s parents learned how to implement oral therapy in every day life to help Alyssa succeed through her challenges.
“Therapy is for the parents as much as it is for the child. By utilizing the early intervention and Sound Beginnings programs, we were equipped with the knowledge needed to immerse Alyssa in a language-rich lifestyle.”
Alyssa received a BAHA (bone anchored hearing aid) to assist with her hearing loss at seven months old. She continued in the Sound Beginnings program until enrolling in the MOSD Preschool program just before her second birthday.
“Memphis Oral School for the Deaf is more than a school! It is a community for not only the kids, but the parents as well. The love and commitment they show for all of their students is real, and truly a blessing. MOSD is teaching her from the start how to live in a 'hearing world.' Alyssa's life will have different challenges, but these skills will always stay with her."
Autumn was born on December 9th 2003. She was healthy and beautiful; my second child and I was beyond ecstatic. Autumn passed all the routine screenings, except the one for hearing. She failed it three different times and in hopes of all things positive, the nurses explained that it could very well be excess fluid in her ear, “which happens a lot,” they said. Even though it wasn’t more than a week or two between leaving the hospital and seeing an audiologist, it felt like forever! I was anxious and nervous, ready to know the results of the in-depth hearing tests performed on her that day. It was determined that she had a profound hearing loss and I was devastated. Not having any knowledge or experience with anyone who has a hearing loss, I was scared and overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to begin or what steps I needed to take to help my daughter. Fortunately, I have an unbelievable support system. My family and friends, even the audiologist and team of therapists that helped put us on the right path and held our hands the whole way through. After trying hearing aids with no success, we proceeded to take sign language classes and wait to see if Autumn was going to be a candidate for a cochlear implant. It turns out she was and we made the choice as a family to give her the chance to live in the hearing world. At the time, doctors did not perform bilateral implant surgery, so we started with the right ear. It was a very long surgical process, but it was well worth it. We waited a month for healing before “turning her on” and after that, we began our Memphis Oral School for the Deaf journey.
Around two years of age, my little one was going to school every day, like a big girl. She was learning so much from all of her teachers and loved being with her friends. We were in awe as we watched her progress from mostly receptive language to both receptive and expressive language in her time at MOSD. I was so excited to show her off to everybody! I was very proud of her and all the words she could say. How she could listen and hear what people were saying to her and then have an appropriate response. It was such an awesome feeling. A few years down the road, she received her second implant. It was a blessing to for her to be able to absorb even more language with now two cochlear implants. Autumn attended the school from 2005-2010 and had so many amazing experiences while she was there. She learned to play violin and got the chance to meet and play together with Justin Osmond. We took a trip together to Nashville and she lobbied for two days to help benefit her wonderful school. There are so many more activities we did and great people we met along the way; these are just a couple.
Once Autumn graduated from MOSD, she was main-streamed into a public school. The only accommodation she needed was an hour of speech therapy three times a week. That was only necessary for the first few years. Much of her public-school life had been without assistance. As grateful as I am that Autumn was able to easily transition into the school system, I missed so much the warmth and the comfort of our MOSD family, which is comfort that we haven’t had since then and will never have again. It was a priceless relationship and I am forever in debt to the school and the teachers/staff who make it what it is. The gratitude, compassion, extensive knowledge, the list goes on and on and I can’t thank everybody enough for helping me mold and shape Autumn into the sweet, smart, and driven young lady she is today.
Autumn is currently homeschooled and thoroughly enjoys the flexibility it offers. She is able to work full time and does exceptionally well with customers and her coworkers. She is a hard worker in the work force and in regards to her education. Through homeschooling, we were able to advance in grade level and she will be starting her tenth grade year this fall and start preparing for college. Autumn aspires to be a veterinarian, which was always her choice for career day at MOSD. She has started learning how to drive and enjoys hanging out with her friends and boyfriend, all the things that fifteen-year-old girls enjoy doing. She is on her way and I believe that none of this could’ve been possible without you! Forever our family, thank you Memphis Oral School for the Deaf!