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last updated Thu 4 Nov 10


pictorial History Timeline
View the pictorial History Timeline (Note: the page will take several minutes to fully download)

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History of Deaf Education in Sumner

1868 - 1877 Dorcas Mitchell teaches deaf children from one family in Charteris Bay. Teaches using sign language.

1878 Dorcas Mitchell applies for position of principal at the Sumner Deaf and Dumb Institution. She is unsuccessful.

1880 The congress of educators of the deaf held in Milan, Italy recommended that the oral method was the most effective way of teaching deaf children. Sumner Deaf and Dumb Institution opened.Gerrit van Asch was appointed principal. Oral teaching promoted, sign language strictly forbidden.

1884 Sumner Deaf and Dumb Institution is now called Sumner Institution for Deaf-Mutes.

1890 There are now 42 boarders and three teachers. The classrooms and boarders (boys) move to a larger house. Vocational training in farming and domestic work is given as well as classroom lessons. Teachers are expected to live in.

1901 First day pupil enrols 1904 Main Building opens, with specially planned classrooms and dormitory accommodation. As the roll increases this building is added to in 1912.

1907 Edward Stevens, Principal of Sumner School for the Deaf.

1908 Experimental class of pre-schoolers starts.

1910 Teachers start visiting parents. There are now about 120 students - day students and boarders.

1921 Myers Park School for the Deaf opens - a satellite school under Sumner School for the Deaf.

1922 James Crawford, Principal of Sumner School for the Deaf.

1929 Thomas Chambers, Principal of Sumner School for the Deaf.

1936 Adult workers are now employed on the school farm and in domestic work, but senior students were still expected to help.

1936 A special listening room is fitted with a group hearing aid.

1938 A new Boys' House is built and the older one is demolished.

1940 Herbert Pickering, Principal of Sumner School for the Deaf.

1941 Special teacher training commences at Auckland Teachers' College, instead of on the job at Christchurch.

1940 World War Two starts. School for the Deaf is used for military purposes. North Island children go to Titirangi.

1944 Deaf education is still administered from Christchurch. There are now 144 students, the increase is due to a rubella epidemic.

1946 Deaf education in New Zealand is now divided into two separate intake regions, due to a further increase of students affected by rubella. Deaf school in Auckland to stay.

1948 Helen Keller visits Sumner School for the Deaf. . . . > Story & photos

1949 Teachers of the deaf are now trained at Christchurch Teachers' College as well as Auckland.

1953 All students get hearing aids.

1954 Four group aids are installed at the school.

1955 The 75th Jubilee is celebrated.

1957 Training commences for Advisers on Deaf Children.

1958 Boys' House is destroyed by fire, and the students are billeted, then accommodated in a hostel in Lyttelton for five years. Student dormitary accommodation is reviewed. . . > Boys' House Fire story & photos

1959 The first unit classes are established at local schools. Te Aro in Wellington and Linwood North in Christchurch (1960).

1962 First residential home opens with 12 students under the care of residential social workers and phasing out of dormitory accomodation begins.

1963 First support person employed to assist in the classroom with students from the 1960 rubella epidemic.

1967 Itinerant teacher support is provided for children in mainstream schools. Parents are encouraged to move close to a support school so that their children may become day pupils.

1974 Sefton Bartlett, Principal of Sumner School for the Deaf. Each child receives two hearing aids. A Resource Centre and Library is set up for use by the whole region.

1979 The philosophy of Total Communication in the education of deaf and hearing impaired persons is adopted and becomes part of Department of Education policy. Tuition is to be appropriate to the needs of each student. An integrated class starts with hearing students from Sumner Primary School. All boarders are moved into residential houses, and Main Building is closed due to earthquake risk.

1980 Sumner School for the Deaf now called van Asch College. The Centenary is celebrated.

1981 "Main Building" is demolished.

1983 Regional residential courses for pre-schoolers and their families are started.

1984 First pre-school programmes start. The Resource Centre and library are extended to provide greater support for regional needs.

1989 The first Board of Trustees is elected. Alan Bensley is the first Chairperson.

1992 First deaf chairperson of Board of Trustees van Asch College.

1993 Ian Cocks, Principal van Asch College.

1994 NZSL policy introduced. Professional interpreters are employed by the school.

1995 van Asch College is now called van Asch Deaf Education Centre.

1997 First bilingual class is established at van Asch Deaf Education Centre.
First Deaf teacher appointed to the school. . . . > Ann Croy's Story

1998 Margaret Trotter - first female Principal at van Asch Deaf Education Centre.

1999 'Anniversary Day' 10th March celebrated. Museum is officially opened. New Information Technology building completed.

2000 Ian Cocks returns as Principal in November. The itinerant teachers of the deaf in the lower half of the North Island and the South Island are employed by van Asch Deaf Education Centre.

2001/2 Deaf Resource staff are appointed to positions in Palmerston North, Napier, Wellington and Dunedin.

2003 Hon. Ruth Dyson opens the Michael Parsons Cochlear Implant Clinic.

2004 Telephone Relay Service starts. Draft NZSL Curriculum developed. . . . > N. Z. Relay Service Story
van Asch produces drama 'The Importance of Being Earnest' . . . > Stories & photos

2005 125th Jubilee of van Asch. . . . > Jubilee photos & stories . . . > Jubilee Sculpture
van Asch History Student dramas . . . > Stories & photos

2006 NZSL becomes New Zealand's third official language. . . . > Stories & photos
van Asch produces 'Story Time' dramas . . . > see photos

2007 Barry Newcombe PhD, Principal van Asch Deaf Education Centre.
van Asch produces drama 'The Tempest' . . . > Stories & photos

2008 50th Anniversary of Boy's House fire commemorated. . . > Boys' House Fire story & photos
van Asch produces play Oliver Twist in NZSL with voiced interpretation. . . > see photos

2009 van Asch Anniversary Day, 10 March, 2009 . . . > see photos of the celebration
The van Asch Whare "Tuawera" is opened, Saturday, 15 August, 2009. . . > see photos of the opening
van Asch produces 'Story Time' dramas . . . > see photos