Missouri School for the Deaf gets first deaf leader

Mar 10, 2014

The Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton will have its first deaf superintendent as of July 1 this year.

Ernest E. Garrett III was selected for the position by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education late February.

Credit Ernest Garrett III

Garrett has been the Executive Director of the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for three years. Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Special Education for the department, Stephen Barr, said the department was excited to have Garrett to take over the superintendent position.

“The fact that he’s deaf is probably a plus but Ernest made it not based on his deafness but because we thought he was the right person for the job,” he said.

Barr said applicants were first screened on whether or not they met the basic requirements of the position before enduring a two-day interview process with a “very good interview team.”

Team members included representation from the Missouri School for the Deaf alumni association, advisory board and the school itself, the superintendent from the Missouri School for the Blind, and members of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In the school’s 163 years of operation, they have never had a superintendent that is deaf or African American. It was for this reason, Garrett says, he was a bit stunned to be offered the job.

“For them to select me, an African American and deaf man, was an honor that I am still reacting to,” he said.