The MDE-LIO Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) Support Team was created to help develop competent, informed, and knowledgeable teachers of students in Michigan who are DHH.

Through this program, novice teachers and teacher consultants supporting students who are DHH are paired with experienced teachers as they gain experience in the field. This program is offered at no cost to districts or individuals.

Download a brochure: MDE-LIO DHH Support Team Brochure (PDF)

Need for Support

Teachers of the Deaf (TOD) and teacher consultants of students who are DHH (TC-DHH) are in a unique position. They:

  • work with students ages birth to 26 who have a wide range of hearing, cognitive, and physical abilities
  • are often the only DHH professionals employed by small and rural districts and are often isolated from peers who could provide knowledge and assistance
  • must be able to successfully interact with parents, teachers, health professionals, and administrators who may be unfamiliar with the needs of students who are DHH
  • must have well-developed organizational skills to meet the demands of a fast-paced job that requires flexibility and creativity with unique students, learning environments, and schedules
  • must understand how hearing assistive technology (HAT) can address the challenges of hearing in a classroom setting, how to troubleshoot devices, and how to educate others about HAT care, use, and benefits
  • must understand how to collaborate with additional personnel, such as educational interpreters, speech language pathologists, educational audiologists, American Sign Language (ASL) specialists, interveners, counselors or social workers, and school psychologists

Who is Eligible

MDE-LIO will support Michigan TODs and TC-DHHs who are currently working in Michigan schools and meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • first year TOD or TC-DHH
  • recently transferred from another state
  • recently returned to the DHH field after more than five years
  • student in the DHH Consortium for Teacher Preparation who has been placed in a TOD or TC-DHH role

What is Provided

Direct Support

Each novice TOD or TC-DHH is paired with an experienced Support Team member for up to two years. Team members may offer support for situations and questions regarding:

  • conducting assessments or evaluations
  • coaching for providing direct instruction and consultation
  • scheduling daily plans and keeping records
  • professional development resources such as workshops, conferences, tools, and online resources
  • informal observations and supportive feedback
  • networking opportunities

Support is provided confidentially and individualized to the requester's needs.

Supplemental Support

Novice school personnel participating in the DHH Support Team are encouraged to participate in professional development activities offered by MDE-LIO. Support Team consultants are also available for phone or in-person meetings to share information and respond to individual needs for support.

How to Request Support

Support from the DHH Support Team can be requested by any Michigan TOD or TC-DHH who meets the criteria above.

  1. Fill out and sign the New TOD/TC-DHH Specialist Support Request Form [PDF].
  2. Email the form to Elizabeth Flores at [email protected].
  3. MDE-LIO will approve or deny the request.
    • If the request is approved, the requester’s administrator will be required to sign and submit a separate approval form.
    • The requester will then be paired with a DHH Support Team consultant.

Benefits for School Districts and Administrators

  • Staff turnover costs decrease; teacher retention builds continuity with students.
  • Professional expertise increases as new DHH professionals are guided to:
    • access educational resources and materials
    • use additional MDE-LIO services
    • learn about statewide family engagement activities and events
    • get DHH-specific assistance for ongoing professional development
  • Support is provided for assessments, instructional strategies, and the expanded core curriculum.
  • The program provides an opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of Michigan policies, procedures, and practices for evaluating and serving students who are DHH.

Benefits for Students and Families

  • Teacher support leads to long-term retention, resulting in consistent, high-quality instruction.
  • Instruction is provided to students using best practices in language acquisition and development, self-advocacy, transition skills, and hearing assistive technology.
  • Services are offered in a universally designed way to meet unique learner needs, including students who are DHH with additional disabilities.

Support Team Members

The MDE-LIO Support Team includes experienced individuals in the DHH field.

Kelly Dunham

Kelly Dunham has more than 15 years of experience as an itinerant teacher supporting students in Michigan who are DHH. She is passionate about areas such as supporting accessibility in the classroom through accommodations and technology; addressing social and emotional learning needs with a whole-child approach; the importance of appropriate DHH services in early intervention and early childhood education; determining a student’s educational impact from hearing status; and developing strategic goals to foster success. Dunham previously served on the Michigan School Professionals for Students who are DHH executive board and is on the planning committee for the annual Family Matters! conference. She has successfully built peer-to-peer supports, empowering students to connect with each other while also connecting families who are navigating the journey of raising a child who is DHH. Dunham studied Deaf education at Michigan State University.

John Kirsh

John Kirsh earned his BS in applied mathematics from Rochester Institute of Technology and his MA in Deaf education from Michigan State University. He has more than 30 years of teaching experience, including 22 years of K-12 teaching experience with students who are DHH. Kirsh has supported students who are DHH in kindergarten to age 26 in Total Communication programs and a day school for the Deaf, using ASL. Kirsh currently provides support for districts, parents, and professionals as part of MDE-LIO's DHH outreach team.

Kristin Knight

Kristin Knight has more than 24 years of experience in the field of DHH education throughout Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Montana. She has a range of experience, including work with Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI), classroom teaching, itinerant work, and teacher preparation at the University level. Knight is passionate about Deaf+ learners and special populations, as well as special education law and creating and supporting strong educational programs for students based on individualized team planning. She serves on the Michigan School Professionals for Students who are DHH (MSPSDHH) leadership team and Michigan's Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K) committee.