The Learning Center for the Deaf

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The Learning Center for the Deaf
Administration Building, The Learning Center for the Deaf, Framingham MA.jpg
Framingham, Massachusetts
Type Private, publicly funded
Motto "Competence, Character, and Community"
Established 1970
Founder Warren Schwab
President Judith Vreeland, Executive Director
Grades Infants through High School
Color(s) Blue, White and Black
Mascot Galloping Ghosts

The Learning Center for the Deaf is accredited by:

    New England Association of Schools and Colleges    
    The Conference of Educational Administrators of  
    Schools and programs for the Deaf (CEASD)
    The Council on Accreditation (COA).
The Learning Center for the Deaf is licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA) and the Department of Early Education and Care (MA).

The Learning Center for the Deaf (TLC) is a school for deaf and hard-of-hearing children located on 14 acres in Framingham, Massachusetts. TLC offers a challenging program of academic excellence for deaf and hard of hearing students from infancy through high school, while also serving students who have different mental and emotional challenges. The Learning Center's curriculum fosters knowledge and respect for both American Sign Language (ASL) and English, a bilingual education, and for Deaf American and hearing cultures, a bicultural education.[1]

TLC consisted of 3 separate campuses located in Massachusetts: the main campus in Framingham, Massachusetts, the Walden campus, and the Randolph campus, which is no longer open.[2]

TLC not only serves students educationally but provides different services that help students grow in all aspects of their lives. While supporting the children, TLC also provides support to the communities surrounding it by offering ASL classes, instruction to other schools, interpreting services, as well much more. The goal of TLC is to provide a way for students to excel to the best they can possibly be in a place where language is vital to communication. The mission of TLC includes, "competence, character, and community." [3][4]


In 1970, Warren Schwab established The Learning Center for the Deaf (TLC) in Massachusetts as an educational system that focuses on providing language and access to communication for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. As the first school for the Deaf, in Massachusetts to use an bilingual approach of education focusing on both ASL and English, the TLC completely deviated from the "oral method" of education.[5] During the 1970s, the school created a student-centered curriculum with "open classroom" formats. An initial enrollment of 22 students quickly grew and the school expanded in 1975, with the addition of a preschool program, in 1978, with the establishment of a special needs program for deaf children who have cognitive or behavior disabilities, and in 1976, with the addition of a parent-infant program, one of the first programs to provide deaf infants exposure to signs in addition to spoken English and to offer parents instruction in the use of signs. A high school began in 1980, and a group residence for high school students began the following year. In 1987, The Learning Center opened "Walden House", a comprehensive residential treatment program for deaf youth between the ages of 8 and 22 years who are challenged by severe social and emotional difficulties. A new facility for these students was completed and occupied in December 1995, with a capacity of 30 students and is now called the Walden School. In 1994, The Learning Center opened a satellite campus (preschool–elementary program) in Randolph, Massachusetts. In 2011, after seventeen years, this campus closed and services were consolidated on the main campus.

Important Contributors to TLC[edit]

Chuck Baird[edit]

Chuck Baird is a well known artist in the Deaf community. He is also known as an actor, teacher, and storyteller. In 1989, he helped established De'VIA, an expression of Deaf Visual Arts that allowed Deaf and Hearing artists to have a way of expressing their own Deaf experiences. This continued to lead him in becoming a very successful artist and contributing to a number of Deaf communities and Deaf schools over the years, including The Learning Center for the Deaf. In 1994, Chuck Baird lived in the school for a year, as an artist in residence, working to create a mural that was a "visual interpretation of Deaf History". His collected information from different sources relating to Deaf History helped him create a 150-foot-long Deaf History mural that would be placed on the walls of the Schwab Athletic Center of the Framingham, Campus for the community to experience. In parts,TLC's staff and students were able to help create frames for the mural and their hands on the frames were included as part of the mural. The mural called A Panoramic View of the History of American Sign Language shows in three divided sections: the Golden Ages, the Dark Ages, and American Sign Language Revival. TLC was truly grateful to Chuck Baird for all the work he contributed to TLC over that year as his work is still remembered till this day.[6][7][8]

Joseph Thomas Kopas[edit]

Joseph Thomas Kopas was an important member of the Deaf community by devoting his time as a storyteller, teacher, and pioneer. He was known in Massachusetts as the first Deaf teacher of Deaf students, helping lead more schools to hire Deaf teachers over the years. Kopas was an advocate and helped made a connection between the hearing world and Deaf world by supporting the Deaf community, as well as explaining to others that the differences between the hearing world and Deaf world are very small. He committed his time as a teacher in five different educational systems, including The Learning Center for the Deaf, where he spent 30 years teaching and educating Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. When TLC was first established, Kopas, contributed to the school by being a part of the growth of the school in the Deaf communities in both the city of Boston and throughout the nation. Kopas had been a teacher for over 50 years before his retirement in 2001, at TLC. In 2014, Kopas passed away and TLC made a tribute to him for all the contributions he made during his lifetime.[9]

Marie Jean Philip[edit]

September 1993 Marie Jean Philip at The Learning Center for the Deaf

Marie Jean Philip was known as a devoted and cherished educator, advocate, storyteller and friend in the Deaf Community. She was able to capture the hearts of not only her students but adults as well with her storytelling. Over the years, she was able to educate young children using both American Sign Language (ASL) as well as written English in the classroom, while also promoting for ASL to be accepted as a language in America. This made her successful in the Deaf communities all over America. She not only served a purpose in the United States for supporting Deaf education but also in other countries as well, which is why she is known as a "legendary advocate of education for Deaf children around the world". Philip served as a variety of different important positions over her lifetime that helped promote and support the Deaf community and Deaf education including her position as the Bilingual Bicultural Coordinator at The Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham Ma. This is where she was able to advance the curriculum of instruction and education by establishing the use of both ASL and written English. Her contributions to TLC was able to give hope to the many who questioned incorporating ASL and written English into educational instruction. The Deaf community and TLC is still motivated by the contributions Philip has made till this day by the barriers she broke down and the changes she made. Unfortunately, in 1997, Marie Jean Philip suddenly passed away and the Deaf communities around the world and TLC mourned her death as a true lost for the Deaf world. TLC later made a tribute to Marie Jean Philip for the contributions she made throughout the Deaf world[10][11]

New name in honor of Marie Jean Philip[edit]

On May 30, 2002, TLC decided to honor Marie Jean Philip by naming a part of the school after her, in honor of her passing. The new elementary school at TLC became named as the Marie Jean Philip Elementary School and a dedication ceremony was held. Thirteen years later, once again TLC decided to make a change in the naming of the school by honoring Marie Jean Philip and establishing that TLC is not "just a school" but more. In September 2015, TLC named its Pre-K through 12 grade program as the Marie Philip School at The Learning Center for the Deaf.[12][13]

Logo Change[edit]

On May 14, 2016, TLC introduced a new logo for the school. The new logo was created as a way to show TLC as a place where the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community are served and provided in a way that meets their needs educationally, as a community, and in a therapeutic way. The new logo consists of seven different concepts that contributed to the logo change:

  • The color green was picked because of the beauty of the green grass on the campus.
  • Butterfly (a symbol of the Deaf community and are possibly known for being Deaf)
  • Ghosts of fire (the school's mascot)
  • Books (as a way to enter into the English language and the way to support a bilingual/bicultural education)
  • Inspiration (TLC's way of inspiring students, parents, staff and community)
  • Hands Waving (the sign for applause)
  • TLC Sign Name (also represents the sign for I Love You)

In fall of 2016, TLC started to incorporate this new logo into the school and on marketing materials as well. [14]


The Learning Center for the Deaf continues to be at the forefront of Deaf Education as it addresses issues of language and culture at the school. In 1988, The Learning Center made a commitment to become a Bilingual Bicultural school emphasizing both American Sign Language and English along with Deaf culture and other hearing cultures. American Sign Language is the primary language in the classroom and on campus; English is taught as a second language. In 1989, The Learning Center became the first school for the deaf in the U.S. with a Deaf Parent Infant Coordinator. Deaf role models are an integral part of the academic environment. The philosophical commitment to a bilingual school represents a shift in power in deaf education and an attempt to bring together the combined strengths of deaf and hearing professionals, parents, the Deaf community, and students to create an empowering learning environment.

School Campuses[edit]

Framingham Campus[edit]

TLC's main campus sits on 14 acres located in Framingham, Ma. It has 16 buildings located on its campus that consist of different classrooms, kitchen/dining areas, administrative offices, a gymnasium/auditorium, therapeutic units, audiology services, a library, student residence, maintenance workshop, and fine arts facilities. The Framingham campus includes the Early Childhood Center focused on infants through five years of age, the Elementary school, ages six to twelve, and Secondary Education, middle through high school.[15]

Walden School[edit]

The Walden School is an educational institution and program of The Learning Center for the Deaf that provides housing, support, and educational services for Deaf students, between the ages of 8 to 22, that are faced with different emotional and social challenges. Services provided are supportive and student-centered. The Walden School offers a 12-month residential services for their students to be able to live in a private room.[16][17]

Randolph Campus[edit]

In 1994, TLC opened the Randolph Campus in order to provide services to students from infancy through fifth grade. After seventeen years, in 2011, the Randolph Campus closed in result to a consolidation of the Early Childhood Programs to the main, Framingham Campus.[18]

Community Programs[edit]

 American Sign Language Program[edit]

TLC offers an ASL program where people in the community can take ASL classes. The classes teach a wide range of ASL vocabulary, Deaf history and Deaf culture. This program has been offered to the community for over 40 years and serves as a way to help the community who wants to learn ASL.[19]

The Outpatient Audiology Clinic[edit]

The Outpatient Audiology Clinic is a medical audiology clinic located on Framingham campus of TLC that serves the community as well as the students by providing hearing aids and audiological testing services. It is a non-profit organization that helps support TLC. All the funds that the clinic receives are placed in the education of the students at TLC while also providing for the underfunded programs.[20]

Center for Research and Training (CRT)[edit]

The Center for Research and Training is a program where Boston University and The Learning Center for the Deaf work together in collaboration with each other to research better ways to provide ASL instruction to Deaf students in the classroom while incorporating written English instruction.[21]

Interpreting Services[edit]

TLC includes an Interpreting service located on the Framingham campus that serves a wide variety of different needs within the Metro West and Central Massachusetts areas by providing ASL/English translations.[22]

Public School Partnerships[edit]

This program was previously known as The Outreach Partnership Program (TOPP). TLC changed the name in September 2015, to the Public School Partnerships at The Learning Center for the Deaf. This program is design for students who are in public schools and use a hearing aids or cochlear implants. The goal of this program is to offer consultation, support for the teachers, family, and students, and provide workshops that will give more insights in what could be done in order to support the academics and development of the students.[23]

Walden Community Services[edit]

This program was previously known as the Walden Wraparound Program. TLC changed the name is September 2015, to the Walden Community Services at The Learning Center for the Deaf. This program serves for providing support to Deaf and Harding of Hearing children's families through two programs that included the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative through MassHealth and the Family Support and Stabilization for families working with Department of Children and Families (DCF) Family Networks program.[24]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°18′24.02″N 71°25′43.35″W / 42.3066722°N 71.4287083°W / 42.3066722; -71.4287083