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March 8, 2006

Deaf teacher overcomes obstacles

From: - IL, USA - Mar 8, 2006

By Karen Meyer

March 8, 2006 - Deaf teachers who are in a classroom of hearing children are rare, but not at Fry School in Naperville. Encouraged by his parents to focus on speech and lip reading skill, Chris Laskowski says it helped him.

For the past five years, Chris Laskowski has been teaching physical education at Fry School.

"I covered kindergarten, through fifth grade for the level and we have 12-13 classes per day, 25 minutes each class," said Laskowski.

Deaf since birth, Chris grew up in Naperville. Always wanting to teach, he knew opportunities would be better if he became a P.E. teacher. He loves sports.

"Matter of fact, I have my own blog, I talk about sport opinions, just talk about how much I like sports," said Laskowski.

When Chris first started teaching his biggest challenge was communicating with his students.

"I was very concerned about understanding what the kids were saying. I depended on body language and facing me and everything," said Laskowski.

To make things easier Chris got a cochlear implant.

"It was really worth it because there was a huge change, my speech improved, my hearing is good now. I can understand about 75% better than previously and I can hear the news, I can understand the radio," said Laskowski.

Fry's principal -- Sharon Baskerville -- speaks highly of Chris.

"He knows how to interact with students, he's very supportive staff member and we see the very best of what he has to offer in everything he does," said Baskerville.

Having a staff member who is deaf is a positive influence.

"I think we're so accustomed to having differences in our school setting, it might appear different to other workplace environments, where they don't have that diversity but we do and our kids are prepared for it," said Baskerville.

The children at Fry School really like Mr. L. -- especially because he lets them have fun.

Copyright ©2006 ABC Inc., WLS-TV Chicago.