Child’s Voice staff is always pleased to see alumni when they visit or attend events. Starting this summer, we had the distinct privilege of welcoming a former student who returned as a teacher.

Mitch Olsen is a Primary II teacher, working with students ages 5-8. His role involves facilitating and promoting growth in language, speech, and self-advocacy skills while also teaching vocabulary, reading, and math.

Already, Mitch can see some differences in how he was educated verses how he educates his students. Some methods have changed over the years, he says, and techniques have become more refined. But there is one constant. “Finding ways to create an environment of rich language,” he says. “That has not changed.”

He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Knox College and a Master’s in Deaf Education from Washington University in St. Louis. During his time in St. Louis, he was a teacher’s aide at the Central Institute for the Deaf and was a student teacher at Moog Center for Deaf Education, as well as here at Child’s Voice. He counts himself lucky to have worked with many of the big names in listening and spoken language education at Moog.

“They provided so much wisdom,” he says, “And helped me understand deaf education’s past and future.”

Although his many years volunteering and learning at Child’s Voice prepared him for becoming part of the teaching team, one thing did surprise him when he got his own classroom – the planning and the paperwork.

“There is a lot you have to keep track of,” he says.

Mitch says he would like to help more parents become advocates for their students, and he especially tries to model self-advocacy in his classroom.

Still, one thing Mitch knows from his many perspectives on the kids at Child’s Voice is that the language learning method they receive is the key to mainstream success.

“Once you provide the language, they’re typical kids,” he says.