School for the Deaf
From 1955-1979, Crotched Mountain operated New Hampshire's only School for the Deaf. As early as 1940, Crotched Mountain provided services to deaf and hard-of-hearing people upon the merger of two antecedent organizations, the NH Society for Crippled Children and the NH Foundation for the Deaf. The NH Society for Crippled Children and Handicapped Persons, as it was then called, helped to pay for examinations and hearing aids, provided referrals for medical treatment and supported screening and treatment programs for pre-school children.
Up until the establishment of Crotched Mountain School for the Deaf (CMSD) in 1955, New Hampshire was only one of three states in the nation without a school for the deaf. Twelve to 14 students were enrolled that first year. The school offered 12 years of education under the leadership of Miss Helen Crathern, director, and Dr. Patrice Costello, principal. During the early years, the curriculum was based upon "oral instuction." Over the years, other methods were introduced, including American Sign Language, Signed English, The Rochester Method, lip-reading, and auditory trainers with headsets.
Enrollment continued to grow during the 1950s; at one point there were 42 students and eight teachers. At the time, State records indicated that 60 deaf children were still being educated out-of-state and another 25 were receiving no education at all. Plans were made to construct a new building (off the end of Carter Hall) for the School for the Deaf, but it was never built. Crotched Mounatin School for the Deaf reached its peak enrollment during the 1960s with nearly 200 students.
The development of the Rubella vaccine in the early 70s reduced the number of children born deaf. In 1972, Crotched Mountain School for the Deaf merged with the Crotched Mountain School for Special Education (established in 1963) to form the present day Crotched Mountain School. Three years later, Public Law 94:142 was enacted "The Education For All Handicapped Children Act of 1975." As a result, deaf students were integrated into local school systems whenever possible; others transferred to either the Austine School for the Deaf in Brattleboro, VT or the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT. In 1979, Crotched Mountain School for the Deaf was officially closed.
Since then, CMSD alumni from all over the country have returned to Crotched Mountain for periodic visits and planned reunions (held in 1991, 1996, and 2001). Most recently, we hosted a special 55th anniversary reunion in 2010.
If you'd like to learn more about upcoming events, programs and services, please contact us so we can add you to our alumni database.