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Hearing-impaired student from Penn Hills ready to learn at Linton next year

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 6:47 p.m.
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Muhammad Mere, 13, will make the transition next school year from the DePaul School for Hearing & Speech in Shadyside to his local public school, Linton Middle School in Penn Hills.

Muhammad Mere of Penn Hills suffers from profound hearing loss, but he has no intention of letting it slow him down.

Mere, 13, will attend classes at Linton Middle School this fall as an eighth-grader.

Mere finished the academic year last month at the DePaul School for Hearing & Speech in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood, and is among eight students making the transition from DePaul to traditional classrooms in the fall. He is excited for the change.

“Next year I'd like to meet new friends and teachers,” he said.

Mere hears by way of cochlear implants, electronic devices that provide a sense of sound by stimulating acoustic nerves with electrodes. Mere has bilateral implants — one in each ear — allowing him to hear sound in stereo.

Mere enjoys playing dek hockey at the Olympic Swim & Health Club in Penn Hills. He has been playing since 2007 and said he is excited to be able to talk more clearly with his teammates.

A typical student at the DePaul School, which has 75 students enrolled, will take specialized classes for an average of four years before moving to a traditional classroom. Mere, who had his hearing loss diagnosed as a toddler, has been at DePaul since age 2.

The school serves children from 18 months old up to 15 years.

In his final year, Mere began attending gym and art classes at Sacred Heart Elementary School, which is next door to DePaul.

DePaul Director of Outreach and Development Lillian Lippencott said the classes “will help Muhammad to get a feel for mainstream education.”

Mere said he expects the biggest challenge will just be getting from one place to the next.

“The principal told me all about the school, so finding my way around will be tough,” he said.

Mere said he has a strong interest in history and social studies and said his time at DePaul has been beneficial.

“They taught me how to learn and listen, how to speak and now to be able to attend middle school,” he said.

DePaul Principal Mary Jo Maynard said Mere and other students moving to traditional classes are emblematic of the school's main goal.

“These students are great examples of the amazing potential that a child who is deaf or hard of hearing has to learn, listen and speak if provided with the appropriate hearing equipment and intensive listening and spoken-language learning at a young age,” Maynard said.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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