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Mattox first deaf student to get teacher ed degreecomment (0)

January 4, 2007

Suzanne Mattox of Birmingham became the first deaf student to complete Samford University’s teacher education program when she received a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, Dec. 16, 2006.
She has known since childhood that she wanted to become a teacher. “I played ‘school’ with my baby sister,” recalls Mattox, who was diagnosed with profound deafness at age 15 months.
Mattox — who reads lips, speaks and uses American Sign Language — has relied on her positive attitude to see her through many challenges, including the off-campus classroom experiences that go along with teacher education.
She chalked up considerable classroom time in both hearing and deaf classroom settings.
“The students were patient with me and enjoyed having a deaf teacher in their classrooms for the first time,” said Mattox, who did her student teaching with hearing fourth-graders at E.P.I.C. School in Birmingham and in a resource classroom with the deaf at Thompson Middle School in Alabaster. 
Although she has proven that she can teach deaf and hearing students equally well, Mattox has accepted a job as a teacher for the deaf at the Preschool for the Sensory Impaired in Mobile. She decided on teaching the deaf, she said, because she believes there are “greater needs” for them. 
“I don’t want them to be labeled as ‘impaired’ because of their deafness. They have the potential to learn anything just like their hearing peers,” said Mattox, who hopes to instill a passion for knowledge in her young students and help parents know how to better communicate with their deaf children.
“I’m very blessed to have parents who know how to communicate with me through sign language,” said Mattox, the daughter of Laurie and Jay Mattox. Her father is pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, Birmingham, in Shelby Baptist Association.
At Samford, she was active in many extracurricular activities, including Alpha Delta Pi sorority, several academic honor societies and student ministries missions trips to Czech Republic and Uruguay. As a recipient of the highly competitive Presidential Scholarship awarded to select freshmen, she was part of the LEAD Scholars program.
She said nobody knows why she was born deaf. “My family and I believe that it is part of God’s plan,” Mattox said.
Before she moves to Mobile she will spend three weeks on a missions trip in Africa.  (SU)
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