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New Davila Day School opens in CA

A new school in Chula Vista, Calif., serving deaf and hard of hearing students has been named for President Davila. The Davila Day School, which is located in the region of California where Dr. Davila was raised, currently serves 45 students, primarily Hispanic, from preschool through sixth grade from nine school districts in San Diego County’s South/East County Regionalized Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program.

According to Christina Neal, coordinator of the Davila Day School, this is the school’s first year as a regional program. She said the number of deaf and hard of hearing students needing specialized academic instruction has dwindled over the years. As a result, the administrators of the South and East county school districts agreed to bring students from each county together in order to provide them a more extensive educational program.

Prior to the opening of the Davila Day School, the students attended deaf and hard of hearing programs at Vista Square Elementary (in South County) and Maryland Avenue Elementary (in East County). Next year the program will be expanded to the middle school level, she said. Instruction is provided in sign language in three classes, said Neal, and three classes are taught orally. All of the school’s staff members are fluent signers, even those who teach the oral/aural classes.

Neal said that Davila was chosen by the school’s staff, led by Penny Valentine, South County Special Education Local Plan Area director, as the namesake for the school because “we have been so inspired” by him. The staff felt that the students and their families would be able to relate to Davila because he was raised in San Diego and has strong ties to the Hispanic community, and because of the many barriers he overcame and his accomplishments, which include being the first Hispanic person to graduate from Gallaudet and first deaf Hispanic person to earn a doctoral degree.

Davila said it was “a grand surprise” to learn that a school had been named for him, and added that he was “very proud and honored.” He sent the school a framed photograph of himself and a copy of his biography, Robert Davila: Moments of Truth, and said that he “will surely plan on visiting at my first opportunity

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