NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Summit Speech School was started in 1967 by May Gold and the Summit Junior League on the grounds of Overlook Hospital following the national outbreak of Rubella that caused deafness in 20,000 infants. The only non-public program in New Jersey dedicated to teaching deaf and hard of hearing children from birth through high school to listen and speak, the SSC's staff works with families, babies, preschool and school-aged children as well as with educators, physicians, audiologists and therapists.
Recently, U.S. Army reservist and school parent Sergeant Luke Romaniecki noticed that Summit Speech School’s flag was caught around the flag pole and tattered. He asked if the school wanted to fly “his” flag—a flag presented to him in honor of his service in Iraq for the U.S. Army.
In mid-January, as preschool students watched, workers from the Borough of New Providence Department of Public Works removed the twisted old flag and replaced it with Romaniecki’s flag, which now proudly flies at the special school for the deaf where his daughter, Theia, participates in the Parent Infant Program, “Sound Beginnings.”
Theia Romaniecki was born with progressive hearing loss. She wears one hearing aid and one cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides sound to the auditory nerve of a person whose ear is profoundly deaf. Her father, Luke, was in Kuwait last August at the time that Theia, at 14 months, was implanted, yet, he was able to be present at the implant activation event by Skype. The video of her hearing activation moment was on national TV.
Theia, in the half year since receiving her cochlear implant, has been able to enjoy listening to herself speak, and clearly has decided she loves to sing.
The vast majority of Summit Speech School students go on to mainstream classrooms, colleges and careers, and form relationships and families.
“I was really moved by this gift to the school from Luke and Laura Romaniecki. It is a symbol of our country and also a sign of appreciation for how we have served their little daughter.” said Pamela Paskowitz, Summit Speech School Executive Director.