2012 Award Recipients
Lifetime Achievment Award
Paul W. Ogden
Paul W. Ogden, who was born Deaf, is the youngest of four sons born to hearing parents. Two of his brothers are hearing and one is deaf. Paul is Professor Emeritus of Deaf Studies at California State University, Fresno, where he has taught since receiving his Ph.D. in 1979 from the University of Illinois at Urbana. In 1995, he was voted “Outstanding Professor of the Year” by the faculty, staff, and students at California State University, Fresno, and nominated for the California State University System Honors. Among his major publications are The Silent Garden: Understanding Your Hearing Impaired Child, Chelsea: The Story of a Signal Dog; The Silent Garden: Raising Your Deaf Child, and El Jardin Silencioso: Criando a Su Hijo Sordo, a Spanish translation of the first five chapters of The new Silent Garden. Gallaudet University Press lists The Silent Garden book as a classic. Paul lives in Fresno, California, with his wife, Anne Keenan Ogden, who is one of the first Deaf to become a R.N.
Educator of the Year
Dee Pitto has been a teacher of the Deaf since 2003. Since that time, she has had the experience of teaching in elementary, middle, and high school settings. Currently, she teaches at Lee Middle School for Yolo County Office of Education where she puts her heart and soul into her job. Dee is an inspiring teacher with high expectations for each and every one of her students. Her confidence in them propels them to perform at a higher level, working towards reaching their maximum potential. As a result of her high expectations, her students experience academic success, acquire self-worth and accountability. Dee teaches a diverse group of students, meeting their individual needs, working closely with each family. She is enthusiastic about technology; she recently received a grant and created a computer lab in her classroom for student use. Most notably, Dee is an active advocate for her students. She advocates for their right to use ASL. She provides them the opportunity to access core curriculum via their natural, comprehensive language. Dee’s students and their families are fortunate to have her as a teacher, an advocate, and a friend.
Administrator of the Year
Angelina Bertran-Harris has been the principal for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing classes at Kern County Superintendent of Schools in Bakersfield, California, for the past 8 years. She has been a special education teacher, mentor teacher, and is now an administrator focused on improving student outcomes. Angie has worked with teachers, parents, and community members to improve the education for all deaf and hard of hearing students in KCSOS classes by taking over the supervision of all DHH classes and helping to align curriculum expectations and provide continuity from pre-k through 8th grade. She has helped her program reach out to parents and the community with events spread throughout the school year including; Deaf Storytelling Night, Deaf Author's Day, Deaf Soccer Day, Deaf Art Show, and the Holiday Family Fun Fest. Angie has coordinated with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing PTO and the Bakersfield - Greater Los Angeles Association for the Deaf to set up an evening Sign Language Class for the parents of our students and other community members. Angie is also the principal for the Richardson Center which serves the KCSOS pre-school programs for all children with special needs.
Interpreter of the Year
Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Gail has attended classes at Sheridan College in Brampton, Ontario, as well as the Canadian Hearing Society. Upon relocating to California, she worked several years as an interpreter for the State of California's Dept of Rehabilitation. She also did freelance for numerous agencies, colleges and universities including (but not limited to) work as an educational and VRS interpreter. She holds RID's National Interpreter Certification (NIC), Ed:K-12, as well as the EIPA. She is an active member of AVLIC and is currently pursuing her COI in Canada, as well as being a member of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT). In 2008, she founded Central Coast Sign Language Interpreters LLC, in a continued effort to support the Deaf in Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara counties. Recently, CCSLI has expanded to provide both interpreting and interpreter training services throughout all of California, with its focus being on educational interpreting. Additionally, Gail serves as a Rater (judge) for the national EIPA exam and serves on RID’s national Educational Interpreter Task Force (EITF).
Parent of the Year
Jan Jorgens was raised in Minnesota by two physicians who were humanitarians in philosophy and practice. She is one of six children and was taught from an early age to think of others, help the hurting, stand for what is right, and be kind and encouraging. Starting as a young child, Jan has had a heart for the underdog and makes every effort to befriend and serve the less fortunate, (be they human or animal)!
She attended UC Davis, where she met John Eibensteiner when they played on a softball team together. They have been married 35 years, many of which were spent together on a tandem bicycle touring across the United States. Jan received her Bachelors degree in Human Development from UC Davis. Her love of learning led her to obtain an AA degree in Animal Health Technology, a Bachelors and RN degree in Nursing and a Master’s degree in Social Work. After 15 years of marriage, Jan and John believed God was calling them to adopt. Jan took this calling to heart and at last count; they have adopted 10 children, 8 with special needs. They chose to homeschool all their kids except Teo, whose educational needs required more expertise than Jan possessed.
In 1997, Jan brought home two of the children from Ethiopia, (7 of the 10 kids are from Ethiopia). They were 9 month old twin boys. One of the boys, Solomon, was quite healthy and sturdy. His twin, Teo, however was near death. He weighed only 11 pounds, had cerebral palsy and was experiencing difficulty breathing due to severe pneumonia. He had suffered both measles and chicken pox when he weighed only 4 pounds. A big surprise awaited Jan and John regarding their darling Teo. A few days after his arrival, amidst all the joyful caos of new siblings and breathing treatments for his pneumonia, Jan made the stunning discovery that Teo was Deaf! Thus began an utterly new, unexpected, exciting adventure!
The doctors were very pessimistic about Teo’s prognosis regarding both his cerebral palsy and his Deafness. They tried to convince Jan that he would never walk, (she refused to believe this…he is now working toward his black belt in martial arts). Tests showed that he had absolutely no activity in the hearing center of his brain. When Jan took Teo in for audiology appointments and insisted that he was hearing something, (because he was mimicking words he heard), the doctor would look at Jan sympathetically and assure her that he could hear nothing. “The sooner she accepted this fact, the better it would be for Teo”. Jan called the Greengate Deaf and Hard of Hearing School in Woodland, Ca. where he was enrolled immediately. He is now 14 years old and continues to attend this unparalleled program. Jan credits his phenomenal progress, despite several learning challenges, to the dedicated, loving teachers who devote their lives to helping Deaf and Hard of Hearing children thrive. She is eternally grateful to all the teachers who have treasured and nurtured Teo along his educational journey.
Contributor of the Year
Pam is a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, where her deaf parents settled. Pam received her B.S., Paralegal Certificate and her Masters in Public Administration from California State University Hayward. She was a paralegal at the California Center for Law and the Deaf (CalCLAD) for 10 years; in that capacity she provided direct services, legislative review, advocacy training and community education. Since then she has completed her coursework for a Doctorate in Education in Higher Education – Community College Administration from Alliant International University. Her research concentrates on the contributions of native sign language users to the field of sign language interpreting and the development of culturally specific training.
Her interests and current position as Director of the GURC at Ohlone College, have led her to develop many training and continuing education opportunities for professionals and families in the Western United States. Along with providing opportunities for interpreter language development in math and sciences, she has developed training on cultural issues for deaf and hearing interpreters who have deaf parents, leadership (with an emphasis on women of color), advocacy and ethics. She has chaired or been on core planning committees for a number of state-wide, regional and national conferences, including the California Educators of the Deaf Conference, Western Symposium on Deafness, National Asian Deaf Congress Conference, Intermountain Special Studies Institute, Children of Deaf Adults Conference and the American Sign Language Roundtable.