Follow the Signs: Meet Mrs. Brutski

Connor Merk, Editor

Mrs. Stephanie Brutski is currently a deaf and hard of hearing teacher at Colonial Forge. Brutski grew up in Northern New York, near Lake Ontario. Later she attended Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

Brutski has been a deaf and hard hearing teacher for 28 years. She has worked as an itinerant teacher in several Stafford County schools. “I traveled between schools and work with students who are generally in inclusion and I just support them and the teachers, as opposed to what you call [my classroom] a contained classroom” Brutski said.

Referring to her classroom, “In here, I have students who I have as a primary teacher and I also have other students that just come in for one class and then go out,” Brutski said. “I think I have been in every school in Stafford County at some point.”

Brutski always had a feeling that she wanted to become a teacher, but she eventually realized she wanted to work with the deaf population.

“It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I actually met some deaf students and had a chance to do work with them and I went, ‘That’s where I want to go,’” Brutski said. “That kind of settled the path of what I wanted to do for teaching.”

 

“It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I actually met some deaf students and had a chance to do work with them.””

— Mrs. Brutski

Other occupations that she has had in the deaf and hard hearing world include interpreting, but she finds that being a teacher suits her better.  

“If I’m interpreting, I can’t push in and find that teachable moment and teach and instruct, you just have to stay back. That’s not me. I can do it, but then I always find myself doing the push-in teacher thing and pull out,” Brutski said “I have had students you can do that with, they [are able to] understand your role switching.”

Having done both interpreting and teaching, Brutski has found that there is a difference between having the role of interpreting sign language and teaching for deaf and hard hearing.

“Interpreters will tell you just the opposite, that they’re not the teachers, they are not coming up with those creative ways to figure it out,” Brutski said. “So you kind of know your niche, and we do cross sometimes, just like a para and teacher would. I knew early on that I was not an interpreter.”

Working with and being around deaf children has made a large impact in the way that she has raised her own children.

“When I had my children and I remember, we were driving down 95 and I said something and my daughter didn’t understand the word and she said, ‘Mommy turn around and look at me when you say that word.’ What I didn’t realize is that I kept that face-to-face communication and when it was something new, I always made sure they were looking at me, which is not a hearing thing to do that’s a deaf thing to do.”