St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf moving from Chesterfield
By: Carol Enright
St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf is looking for a new home. The school, which provides auditory-oral services to hearing-impaired children from preschool through eighth grade, is selling its building at 1809 Clarkson Road in Chesterfield and looking to lease a new space in the St. Louis area.
Director of development, Chris Martinez, said the school is searching for a facility about a third of the size of its current 108,000-square-foot building. Martinez cited two primary reasons for the move. He said the school needs a space that can accommodate its information technology systems as it continues to embrace cutting-edge technologies such as its “ihear” Internet therapy program (ihearlearning.org) that provides online services for hearing-impaired children throughout the country. He also said the nature of deaf education is changing.
“We see more and more kids over the Internet. We see more and more kids doing outreach programs in their mainstream schools,” Martinez said.
When the school moved to Chesterfield in 1996, it was home to 100 on-campus students. Today, St. Joseph serves only 40 students at its Chesterfield campus. However, the entire organization, including its Indianapolis campus, reaches well over 300 students via online therapy and outreach programs that provide services to hearing-impaired children at their mainstream schools. This change in how the school delivers services has made the current building’s abundant space, which includes a commercial kitchen, superfluous, Martinez said.
“The new facility – that may be in Chesterfield or may not – will allow us to have stronger IT and a space that’s more appropriate for our program,” Martinez said.
He noted that St. Joseph has always been an innovator in adopting the latest technologies – from creating a curriculum to serve children with cochlear implants in the 1980s to launching “ihear” in 2009.
As school officials look for that new space, one factor they will consider is a demographic study to understand where the school’s students and staff currently live. Martinez said the school staff is “quite excited” about the move and students and families have been supportive as well.
“I think they really understand it’s the best decision for the future of the organization as it moves into this new technologically savvy and distance-learning oriented state of education,” said Martinez.