Crutchfield Elementary School Deaf Studies Educator Analynn Bartlett was named as a 2018 Texoma Hero by the Herald Democrat for her work in helping deaf and hard-of-hearing students, as well as their families.

Bartlett has worked as a teacher within the Sherman Independent School District for four years and works with students between kindergarten and fourth grade. In 2017, Bartlett was selected as Sherman ISD's Teacher of the Year and was named the runner up for Region 10 Teacher of the Year.

“She is such an advocate for the deaf community,” Crutchfield Elementary School Principal Rhonda Johnson said. “She just immerses herself in their families, takes them on special outings and builds relationships. I can't say enough about her energy and her heart.”

Bartlett said she originally planned to pursue a career in physical therapy but fell in love with American Sing Language after enrolling in an introductory course in college.

“I got to the class on the first day and learned that my professor was actually deaf,” Bartlett said. “She was the first deaf person I had ever met and it really shocked me into realizing that there's a a whole world out there I don't know anything about.”

Bartlett has used her sign language skills to volunteer at the Deaf Action Center in Dallas and has even traveled to Honduras and Haiti to assist schools and churches which serve deaf students and members.

“I've met a lot of people though the deaf community,” Bartlett said. “I want these kids to have those opportunities and I feel like if they don't see that here and they don't see it now, they won't know it's out there.”

While her students learn the skills they need to excel during the school day, Bartlett has also opened her classroom to parents and family members with weekly sign language tutoring sessions. Bartlett said the classes are an important way for families to learn how they can better communicate and connect with their children, but are also a good opportunity for parents to share their success and struggles.

“When you find out out your kid has been identified as having hearing loss or being deaf, naturally you wonder if he or she is going to be able to have a normal life,”Bartlett said. “This is a chance for these parents to get together and talk about it and what has helped their kids and their families.”

Johnson said Bartlett's positive impact on her students is clear and even those well outside the school or student families have seen her influence.

“We've even had people come up to me and say, 'You don't know me, but I'm a neighbor of one of your students and you don't know what a difference that teacher has made in the lives of that family.'” Johnson said. “She's an awesome young lady.”

Bartlett said she is motivated by the challenge of making a smaller community like Sherman more aware and accommodating the needs of hearing-impaired students and citizens. While Bartlett said the task before her is great, she's supported by her husband and fellow Sherman ISD deaf studies teacher James, as well as district and Crutchfield staff.

“Between working with the principal here, my deaf ed supervisor and then also all the general ed teachers who really support each other, I'm really fortunate and I feel like they help me be better for my kids.”