Home > Article from newspaper > Deaf Putnam pioneer runs day-care center

Deaf Putnam pioneer runs day-care center

March 5, 2007

Mary Ann Cameron, who is deaf, owns and operates Children’s Learning Garden day care in Putnam. From left are her granddaughter, Naturelle Warner, Lily McKay and Baiely Menzano.

Hearing-impaired population in Connecticut:

  • Number of peoplewho have difficulty hearing normal conversation: 141,628 or 5.54 percent of population.
  • Number of people unable to hear normal conversation: 11,945 or 0.47 percent of population.
    Source: 1995 U.S. Census data

    John Shishmanian/Norwich Bulletin

    “I hope my example will inspire other deaf people,” says Mary Ann Cameron, owner of Children’s Learning Garden day care in Putnam.

    PUTNAM — Mary Ann Cameron admits being a trailblazer can be nerve-wracking.

    “I’m a little nervous,” said Cameron, through an interpreter. “I know what I’m trying to do will be a big responsibility.”

    Cameron, who was born deaf, is about to become the first deaf day-care owner in town — a job description that entails a host of responsibilities, not all work-related. In addition to overseeing the normal day-to-day operation of the center, which includes curriculum planning, record keeping and staff supervision, Cameron also aspires to make a larger mark.”I hope my example will inspire other deaf people,” said Cameron, 49. “There’s no excuse for why they can’t succeed even if they can’t hear. They’ve got hands and they’ve got lips.”

    Inside the Children’s Learning Garden Feb. 26, paper snowflakes hung above a group of children coloring pictures of teeth. In an adjacent room, toddlers and infants giggled, while staff members made their way through a maze of toys.

    Staff member Nicole Ladouceur said working for Cameron is really no different from working for anyone else.

    “We sometimes have to talk a little louder, but that’s it,” Ladouceur said. “But she’s loving and warm and always thinks of others.”

    Cameron said her personal and professional background has given her the perfect tools to oversee large groups of children. A mother of five children and grandmother to another five, Cameron has worked as a teacher’s assistant in early learning centers for years. She attended the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, and is working toward obtaining her child development associate degree.

    Jessica Shaffer of North Grosvenordale said she couldn’t imagine trusting her 18-month-old daughter with anyone but Cameron.

    “I put her on a pedestal,” Shaffer said. “Mary Ann is caring and has a huge heart. I would recommend her to anyone.”

    Stacie J. Mawson, executive director of the Connecticut Commission on the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, said the deaf community has come a long way in the last couple of decades, thanks to the efforts of people such as Cameron.

    “The public seems to be more open to deaf culture than in the past,” Mawson said. “I have certainly seen a lot of deaf individuals become successful, people with goals and dreams.”

    Reach John Penney at 334-0638 or jppenney@norwichbulletin.com