Pupils rally to aid deaf teacher

'All I want to do is teach and I cannot'

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013
Alice Woodcock
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ

WHAT'S THAT YOU SAY?: Mairehau Primary School teacher Alice Woodcock, who was born with little hearing, has suddenly gone completely deaf. She's on the list to have a single cochlear implant, but her school and pupils are aiming to raise $40,000 to enable her to have a double implant.

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Profound hearing loss has never prevented Alice Woodcock doing the job she loves - until now.

The 34-year-old Christchurch schoolteacher was born with little hearing but was determined not to let it stop her reaching her goals.

She learnt to lip-read, took speech therapy and wore hearing aids.

Woodcock graduated from the University of Canterbury with a bachelor of teaching and learning with honours and has been teaching at Mairehau Primary School for six years.

But during the school holidays, over the space of four days, she lost her remaining hearing and is now unable to teach.

"It's frustrating. It's disheartening, because all I want to do is teach and I cannot," Woodcock said.

Mairehau principal John Bangma said the children were looking forward to being in Woodcock's class this year and many cried when he told them she would not be starting the year with them.

"Alice has never let hearing loss stop her doing what she wanted to achieve. She's fought her whole life to be accepted as Alice and not as Alice who has a disability," he said.

Woodcock needs a double cochlear implant to be able to return to teaching.

One implant is publicly funded, but $40,000 must be found for the second one.

She was on the public waiting list to get an implant before she lost all her hearing, but she was bumped up the list and is now scheduled to receive both implants on February 21.

Bangma said the children wanted to help and were organising fundraising events, including a mufti day, a sausage sizzle and a quiz night.

He hoped to have Woodcock back teaching at the beginning of May.

Bangma said he had found Woodcock an administration job because he did not think it was fair that she be forced to take sick leave when she was not sick.

A cochlear implant is designed to bypass damaged hair cells in the inner ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.

A device is implanted inside each ear and a speech processor and transmitting coil sits on the outside of the head and transmits signals through the skin via the coil to the implant using radio waves.

Woodcock said her hearing would be 80 per cent better with the implants than it was.

Anyone wanting to contribute can contact the school.

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- The Press

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