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Interview with Julie Graham, scholarship recipient

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Julie Graham graduating - 21 July 2014 (Small).JPGVDEI interviewed Julie Graham from the Victorian College for the Deaf after she recently graduated from the University of Newcastle RIDBC Renwick Centre with a Master of Special Education (Deaf/Hard of Hearing Specialisation). 
 
Julie was one of 74 DEECD Special Education Scholarship- Hearing Impairment scholarship recipients in 2012-2013.  These scholarships provided by the National Partnership Improving Teacher Quality Initiative were championed by VDEI.
 
VDEI:  
Hello Julie! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by VDEI!  Could you tell us why you applied for a scholarship?  
 
Julie Graham: 
I wanted to get my teacher of the deaf qualification because I’d been working at the Victorian College for the Deaf for several years.  A colleague told me that scholarships were being offered through VDEI so a group of five of us from VCD decided to do it at RIDBC in Sydney because we had heard there was more of a focus on deaf signing students there. 
 
VDEI:    
How long did it take you to complete it? 
 
Julie Graham:
It normally takes two years; however, it took me three years because of work and family commitments.    
 
VDEI:   
What subjects were you studying? 
 
Julie Graham:
There were a whole variety of subjects.  Some centred on the family – for example, how parents react to finding out that that their child is deaf and the grief process that they go through.  There was a subject on developmental speech - comparing the speech of a deaf child to that of a hearing child, where they should be and why they are not.  We also explored different technologies. 
 
VDEI:   
How you are benefiting from your study experience? 
 
Julie Graham:
The course has brought a better understanding to my pedagogy.  It has helped me understand why some parents are the way they are and why some feel that they are constantly fighting a battle while others are more resigned.  It has given me more understanding about the impact of family life on a child.  It has given me insights into the developmental aspects of the child and what they might have missed if they’ve had no language for so many years or if they didn’t get aided until later in their childhood as opposed to within the first few months of life. 
 
We also looked at research being done around the world, which helped us see that the battle in deaf education is not just limited to where we are working, that the challenges are occurring right around the world. It’s really about learning best practice in dealing with these issues. 
 
VDEI:   
What has been the most valuable part of your learning experience? 
 
Julie Graham:
It was understanding the developmental aspects of issues within deaf education and that the challenges are a worldwide issue that I found most beneficial.  It made me feel more empowered to try and reduce the stereotypes and push the kids beyond the accepted standard barriers and into a future where they are continually learning and taking on new challenges. 
 
VDEI:    Have you got a particular example of how you have incorporated this into your work? 
 
Julie Graham: In his lectures, Professor Greg Leigh emphasised the need for the child to have a good grasp of the first language in order to grasp the second one.  Some of our bilingual students don’t have a good grasp of either English or Auslan so I along with the other teachers have been working very hard to ensure that they are learning the very best English and Auslan.  I am also working hard to ensure that my Auslan is kept up to speed to so I can deliver the curriculum in Auslan. 
 
VDEI:   
What you hope to achieve now that you have graduated from your scholarship? 
 
Julie Graham:
My aim is to make certain that the students push past barriers and enjoy a lifelong love of learning.  I hope to bring together everything that I’ve learned and teach the kids to the best of my ability. 
 
VDEI:   
Is there anything else you’d like to say about the scholarship? 
 
Julie Graham:
Without the scholarship I probably wouldn’t have done the course.  Having a group of colleagues go through the course was fantastic because we could fly up to Sydney together, share knowledge and run assignments past each other.  I also liked that we could study in our own time.  I could work around it and create a better work/life balance.    
 
VDEI:   
Thanks Julie.  We wish you every success for your future!