News from the Moscow Bilingual School
School reassembled on September 1, the traditional day for the start of the School year in Russia and broke up for the New Year Holiday at the end of December.
In Newsletter 29 we introduced Elena (Lena) Fedina, who teaches Year 5. Originally from Saratov, Lena is from a deaf family and has a deaf twin sister. A former pupil of Galina Zaitseva, she graduated in the same group as another of our teachers Tonia Shikhova. She teaches reading, history and Nature Study through the medium of RSL
Her Year 5 class are all from hearing families. None of their parents know RSL and communicate through fingerspelling, writing and homegrown signs. One parent, Kristina Fedorova’s mother, goes to sign language classes with Tonia Shikhova and other parents are very supportive of their children at home.
Apart from Kristina, the rest of the group is Yana Antipova, Rinat Kudiakov and Vania Fatajo. They are all eleven years old.
Vania is from our Kindergarten group and had no education at all until the age of four. He is now the star pupil and also shows great promise as a wrestler. Rinat and Yana prefer swimming and sewing respectively.
In class Kristina, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has problems with handwriting and uses a computer notebook instead. Lena reports that all the children enjoy handicraft classes.
A frequent visitor this semester has been Zhenia Mazaev, who is Deaf and comes from a Deaf family of many generations’ standing. He has a hearing son who does not sign. Zhenia is particularly interested in the language development of children (both Deaf and hearing) who come from Deaf families.
Liaison between classes taught through RSL and those taught through Russian is, of course, very important and Teachers’ meetings have been devoted to this, to teaching practice and to selecting suitable texts for classwork. The Centre for Deaf Studies is constantly developing new materials and in this we have been helped recently by Dmitrii (Dima) Poteshkin, a Year 4 College student who is Deaf and from a Deaf family. His wife is also Deaf and they are expecting a Deaf baby.
The Kiev visit
The visit to Kiev, which was scheduled to take place 11-15 January, has had to be postponed and will now take place in February. The School will be guests of School No. 6 in the Ukrainian capital. We are hoping that all Year 8 will be able to go and that Arina will be given permission to go by the orphanage where she lives.
Meanwhile a day trip is planned to Pereslavl, an ancient Russian town near Moscow and the home of Peter the Great’s boat, said to be the first vessel in the Russian Navy.
We send every good wish to Sarah Barlow, who has moved to New Zealand. Sarah, through her company ‘Barlow Hearing Services’ gave us invaluable financial support for a number of years. Sarah has now sold the company but we hope to keep in touch with her via email.
It was largely due to people like Sarah that in the last financial year we were able to send 1280 pounds to the School.
In the current financial year we have already received two generous gifts, totalling six hundred pounds, and are on course to match or better, last year’s figure.
News of former students
Tania Davidenko has been helping Igor Kondrashev, one of our first cohort of students, who has been in poor health recently. We wish him all the best for a speedy recovery.
Lena Lapenkova, who lives in Spain with her husband and son, was recently visited by Anna Komarova. A photo of her will be posted on our website at www.mbdsa.org.uk .
Our publications and our Website
As well as being very interesting in their own right, our publications are an important source of income for the School. You can find details of those items we hold in stock on the publications page of our website. There you will also find an archive of past Newsletters; in No. 29 you will find details of those occasional items (such as the RSL DVD) which we have for sale on a ‘first come first served basis’. Our website, incidentally, is maintained and paid for by an mbdsa member in Holland, to whom we are extremely grateful. You will see that we now have pages in Dutch, for the benefit of our supporters in Holland, who have helped us greatly over the years. A list of those who have contributed can be found there. Incidentally our Dutch friends sent us a substantial gift to coincide with the Russian Christmas, on 7 January.
Unfortunately the address for the School blog, which we gave in Newsletter 29 is no longer operative.
This is scheduled to appear in the summer. Please send in copy no later than Friday 30 May 2008.
The ‘Old Russian New Year’ falls on 14 January. Everyone connected with the Moscow Bilingual Deaf School and the Centre for Deaf Studies wishes all our supporters a happy and prosperous 2008.
Tonia Shikhova working with ten-year-old Kristina, who has severe sight loss and who transferred to us from the school for deaf-blind children at Zagorsk.