About Town one of the topics of conversation is the high cost of a college education, where education is headed in the future, and how are we defining success.
Catherine Gibson, local children’s book author, has a view of success that has come from her own experience of following her interests. On January 25 she visited in West Simsbury and read to 150 of students, while showing them how she found her own path to achievement.
Gibson started off by reading a copy of her book entitled Through Sophie’s Eye, which is about a young deaf girl who wants to do something that is difficult for someone who can’t hear. Sophie wants to learn to dance.
“This is a story of a young deaf girl overcoming obstacles and having a positive attitude while achieving her goal of learning how to dance. When Sophie arrives at dance class, the other girls are confused when they see her talking with her hands. They immediately think that because she is deaf she cannot dance,” said Catherine Gibson.
But even though Sophie can’t hear the sounds of music, Sophie can imitate an instructor and in so doing can enjoy the pleasure of dancing.
In her own life, Gibson has been a dancer and a dance teacher with a passion for teaching to children in particular. Additionally, Gibson had developed an enthusiasm for sign language, which makes sense because it is also communicating through movement. In following her passions, she realized there were a lot of deaf students who wanted to experience dancing, which lead to her teaching them and eventually writing this book.
“The children have a sweet innocence about them and an eagerness to learn to dance. During classes they dress up in costumes and mimic dance moves. Every time I come to class, the children welcome me with their warm smiles and their big hugs,” shared Gibson.
In Gibson’s book, in order to help the girls see through Sophie's eyes, the dance teacher Miss Helyn, has the girls dance without music or verbal instructions. The girls are surprised how hard it was to dance without sound, and embrace Sophie for her ability to dance.
“I thought it was great to see the students able to engage with Ms. Gibson and do the signing while she was reading the story,” said Betsy Clarisey, who works at the school and attended the event. “I think because the kids have been exposed to signing at Master’s they were able to get a lot out of the presentation.”
The Master’s School runs a three-year language program for all lower school students starting in kindergarten. This program teaches sign language, Spanish and French. Thus, the students were able to participate when Gibson demonstrated how to speak words like love, teacher, read, and school, in sign language.
Gibson’s message to the children is clear. You don’t necessarily have to strive to be a rock star, a movie star, or a famous person. All you have to do is focus on what you are interested in and passionate about and you will find success.