What It’s Like to Live on Campus
Living in the ISD campus dorms provides students a true language-immersion environment. Houseparents, residential counselors, cooks, nurses and other staff can all interact with our students using sign language. For some students, coming to Iowa School for the Deaf is their first experience where they can directly communicate with others 24 hours a day. Language continues to be practiced and perfected in the boarding program, developing and enhancing both English and American Sign Language skills.
- Students are transported home each Friday. We call it “homegoing.”
- Students are transported back to school on Sundays.
- During special event weekends, some students might stay on campus to experience events such as prom, homecoming or other activities.
- Some students who live close enough to go home every day often choose to have a room on campus, which provides them continual social interaction among friends, quick access to homework help and peer assignments, and a fast way “home” after sports practices.
The Dorm Environment
Dorm living is a social, but structured atmosphere.
- Most staff hold bachelor’s degrees.
- Staff provide regular communication with parents via text messages and photos of their child in everyday activities.
- Girls and boys are divided by buildings.
- Within each building, ages are separated by floors.
- Students have private rooms.
- Staff-to-student ratio averages 1:6.
- Resident staff are on duty from the end of the school day until students are in their first hour classroom the next morning.
- Each floor has a lounge with computers, videophones and large televisions.
- Similar to college dorms, basic furnishings are provided, including linens.
- Students are welcome to bring their own mini fridges, televisions, computers, electronics and other comforts from home.
- Birthdays and special events are celebrated in the dorms.
- Movie nights, craft and cooking nights, and guest speakers may be other common activities. Dormitory floors also plan nights out to shop, attend captioned movies or other local attractions.
After-School Dorm Activities
Students are busy after school. If they aren’t active in sports, group projects are planned, ranging from field trips to service activities, to cheering on their Bobcat teams at sporting events. All activities are planned to broaden student experiences with volunteering, developing healthy life habits, familiarity with resources, self-advocacy and exploring career and leisure interests.
Setting Students Up for Success
- There are dedicated homework hours and study labs for students living in the dorms.
- Some dorm staff members hold or are working towards attaining deaf education degrees, providing a tutoring advantage.
- Regular meetings are held among student life staff to ensure each student is thriving at Iowa School for the Deaf.
- The student life team and the academic team are in continual contact with one another, clarifying homework assignments and setting strategies for each child to achieve his academic and social potential.