Weekly roundup: Book chronicles student’s hearing loss, wellness centers open in Santa Ana, and more

What began as a fourth-grade journaling assignment three years ago is now an illustrated children’s book chronicling a local student’s journey with hearing loss.

Now Hear This book cover

As reported in the Orange County Register, Harper Gideons was diagnosed at birth with moderate hearing loss from a genetic condition known as Pendred syndrome. At 10, she reflected on her experiences during a writing assignment at Marblehead Elementary School in San Clemente.

Those journal entries have since become the source material for “Now Hear This: Harper Soars with her Magic Ears,” which, as of this week, was available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s website.

Harper, now 13, hears with the aid of a cochlear implant in her right ear and a hearing aid in her left. Her older brother has two cochlear implants.

“The first time my new implant was turned on, my eyes got wide as saucers,” she writes in the book. “Before, the world sounded a little bit muted, but after the implant was turned on, everything sounded so clear and awesome.”

Valli Gideons told the Register she discovered her daughter’s earlier journal entries and realized they could be helpful to others. Priscila Soares, who also has hearing loss, was tapped to illustrate the book.

And here are some of the other stories we’ve been following this week:

  • A series of reports produced by Policy Analysis for California Education calls for significant changes to special education, including more streamlined services and better training for teachers. Researchers praised OCDE and a Central Valley district for the steps they’ve already taken, saying they can serve as models for the rest of the state.
  • California’s Next Generation Science Standards were designed to help create a more scientifically literate society, where people better understand the world around them, writes Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares in a column for the OCDE Newsroom.
  • In an 85-page education trailer bill, Gov. Gavin Newsom sketched out plans his for improving underperforming schools and addressing the teacher shortage. The bill outlines strategies for attracting new teachers, targeting impoverished neighborhoods for school improvement, and offering competitive grants to encourage districts to form partnerships and embrace best practices.
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