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Ruth Paxson: CID’s (Central Institute for the Deaf) first teacher

Ruth Paxson with a primary class at the Central Institute for the Deaf, 1923While at work on an exhibit celebrating the centenary of the Central Institute for the Deaf, I discovered an interesting picture of a Ruth Paxton at work with a primary class at CID in 1923. The picture is on page 21 of The History of Central Institute for the Deaf by Helen S. Lane (Lane, 1981).   

Ruth Paxson was first employed as receptionist for Dr. Max Goldstein in his otological practice.  Dr. Goldstein trained her to serve as the school’s first teacher (Bailey 1996). When the Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) opened in Dr. Goldstein’s office in 1914, her first pupils were a class of four:  Elizabeth McCleod, Laurie McMillan, Frieda Poshnike and Mollie Weiss.  Dr. Goldstein gave the time he could spare from a busy medical practice to supervision and teaching.  While teaching (Lane, 1981) and acting as secretary for the Central Institute of the Deaf (Advertisement, Central Institute for the Deaf 1915), Ruth attended the CID normal school to prepare teachers in the oral method. She and three other women, Anna Bissell, Mildred McGinnis, and Augusta Roeder formed the first graduating class of 1915.  Their studies including the following:

  1. Visible speech (a system of symbols developed by Alexander Graham Bell and his father to display features of speech production)
  2. History of the education of the deaf,
  3. Phonetics as applied to the development of sound and speech,
  4. Theories and methods of education for the deaf,
  5. The anatomy and physiology of the ear and of the vocal and respiratory organs,
  6. Observation in the classroom,
  7. Practice teaching especially as applied to speech and lip-reading (Lane 1981, 8).

She and her classmate Mildred McGinnis served as oral instructors in a faculty of seven in 1916-1917 (Lane 1981, 12).  They moved to the first school building in 1917, which is still part of the school (Lane 1981, 14).

Central Institute for the Deaf Faculty (1930);  Paxson front row center    Ruth Paxson was a teacher of the deaf for primary and intermediate grades from 1918 to 1920 at the State School for the deaf and blind, Colorado Springs, Co. (Colorado. Dept. of Education 1918; Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind 1920). However, she was back in her old position teaching at CID two years later in 1920.  She, Mildred McGinnis, and Augusta Roeder posed with 29 faculty members for a School faculty photograph in 1930 (Lane 1981, 32).  By then, she was teacher in charge of the Adult Speech-Reading Department of Central Institute for the Deaf.  She had written a manual on lip-reading with colleague Lula M. Bruce, Stepping stones to speech reading: a practical graded series of lessons for hard for the hard-of- hearing and deaf child (Paxson 1929). In 1931, Ruth Paxson, the CID’s first teacher resigned. She became principal of the Day School for the Deaf in East Cleveland, Ohio in 1934, after posts as associate principal at theVirginia School (Staunton, Virginia) and Beverly School (Beverly, Massachusetts.  She remained in East Cleveland at the Superior School through 1952 (American instructors of the deaf, October 1, 1952 1953).

Bibliography

"Advertisement, Central Institute for the Deaf." Volta Review 17 (1915): 77, 122, 250.

"American instructors of the deaf, October 1, 1952." American Annals of the Deaf 98 (1): 49 (January 1953).

Bailey, Byron J. "Tribute to Max Goldstein, MD: founder and editor of the Laryngoscope." Laryngoscope 106 (5): 535-544 (May 1996).

Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. Report of the Board of Trustees of the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind for two years beginning July 1, 1918 and Ending June 30, 1920. State of Colorado, 1920.

Colorado. Dept. of Education. Colorado School Directory: School Year 1918-1919. Denver, Colorado: Issued by Mary C. C. Bradford, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Colorado, 1918.

Lane, Helen Schick. The History of Central Institute for the Deaf. St. Louis, Mo.: Central Institute for the Deaf, 1981.

Paxson, Ruth and Lula M. Bruce. Stepping stones to speech reading: a practical graded series of lessons for hard for the hard-of- hearing and deaf child. 1929.

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