Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Gold Coast Poker Tourney Raises Money for Troupe

A Total of $4,100 was Raised for the Sign Design Theatre Company

The Sign Design Theatre Company, a Las Vegas-based nonprofit organization that teaches young people American Sign Language, is used to giving back to the community. On Sunday, a charity poker tournament took place at the Gold Coast Casino in Las Vegas to give back to them.

A field of 58 players showed up to play in the $125 buy-in event on Sunday. There were $20 rebuys available for the first hour. By setting aside $10 out of every $125 buy-in and 100 percent of the rebuys for the donation, a total of $4,100 was raised for the company. Since $100 of every initial buy-in was put towards the prize pool, the players competed for their piece of $5,800. Robert Mercer won $1,640 for his first-place finish.

Long-time Las Vegas high-stakes poker player “Oklahoma” Johnny Hale, whose daughter used to be a member of the Sign Design Theatre, was there to offer his support. He played in the event and at the beginning stages, walked around each table and placed $25 bounties in front of his friends and family members, just to sweeten the pot.

Also, to thank the players, the Sign Design Theatre Company put on a show before the tournament started that featured the performance of choreographed musical numbers, including Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.”

“The atmosphere of the entire tournament, from the dealers to the players, was great. It was good day and a great cause,” said Becki Plutte, member of the Board of Directors for the Sign Design Theatre. “People were happy and having fun with some great poker play. It was a good combination.”

For more information on the Sign Design Theatre Company, visit the Web site at


ASL and Deaf training for Police in Denver

Friday, May 25, 2007

I was pleased to read the article presented in an internet newsletter today that I had to ask permission from Lorrie Kosinski, who is a certified sign language interpreter for Denver Commision for People with Disabilities to reprint her article here. I feel this is an excellent example why police CAN be trained to work with the Deaf community! We only need to have motivated deaf instructors (in this article, Bonita Adair and Tammy Rydstrom) and agencies (the Denver Commission, the Denver Police Academy, ASL Essence and DOVE) determined to educate the law enforcement about the Deaf community and how to communicate with them. Other states CAN do that as well, if they have eager deaf teachers and agencies willing to work with each other! Here is Lorrie’s article:

Denver City Employees & Police are Learning Sign Language
Denver City employees are excited about learning sign language and being able to interact directly with Deaf people who may come into their office. The Denver Commission for People with Disabilities has once again been offering American Sign Language (ASL) I-III classes which will run through May 23. Participants are learning basic signs, the ABC’s, and a little bit about the Deaf person’s world.

The Denver Commission, in conjunction with the Denver Police Academy, is also offering ASL I, II, and III classes for police officers, April-June, 2007. These classes focus on terminology and protocol for communicating with people who are Deaf within the law enforcement setting, and offer CEUs to officers taking the classes.

Big thanks to Bonita Adaire, a certified sign language instructor who is Deaf, for teaching all of the classes for City employees and Denver Police officers. Bonita runs her own business, ASL Essence, and has been teaching sign language classes for the City of Denver for the past four years. Prior to Bonita, several other dedicated members of the Deaf community have given of their time to teach the sign language classes.

Thank you also to Tammy Rydstrom of Dove for presenting to the officers during our ASL II class, and to the many Deaf people who have taken the time to meet the ASL participants through the City classes. Your involvement is so valuable to the City of Denver in helping it to become more accessible to people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Now this is not a one-time occurance! This is on-going for 3 years (from my knowledge but could be more than 3 years.) You see, it proves that if agencies and individuals are VERY determined, the law enforcement CAN learn to work with Deaf community!

School for Deaf hires new leader (Salem Statesman Journal)

Now at McKay High School, she worked at deaf school 1980-98

Statesman Journal

May 25, 2007

Patti Togioka.jpgAn assistant principal at McKay High School has been hired as the director of the Oregon School for the Deaf, officials announced Thursday.

Patti Togioka will oversee instruction at the school and manage day-to-day operations, said Oregon Department of Education spokesman Gene Evans. Togioka will begin her new role Aug. 1.

Togioka, 53, worked at the Oregon School for the Deaf from 1980 to 1998 in teaching and administrative roles. She has been at McKay High School for the past six years.

“I’m elated to have been selected,” Togioka said. “I’m so excited to get back to work with them.”

The Oregon School for the Deaf in northeast Salem has about 120 students. About half live on campus during the week and go home on the weekends.

Togioka received her bachelor of arts degree from Gannon University in Erie, Pa. She received her masters degree in special education of the hearing impaired from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Togioka met her husband, who teaches American Sign Language for the Salem-Keizer School District, at Gallaudet University.

Togioka said she looks forward to building a sense of community with the school and rekindling relationships with staff and community members.

“We feel the deaf culture is our family,” Togioka said. “It’s very close to us. This feels as though my heart is there.”

State education officials began seeking a new director after Jane Mulholland was terminated from the deaf school in late December, a decision that angered many in the community.

Last Friday, the Oregon Department of Education announced its intent to move programming of the Oregon School for the Blind to the same campus as the Oregon School for the Deaf.

Togioka said she will remain focused on the deaf school, but would welcome the school for the blind.

“I will be working with what we have to make it the best environment for every student, staff member and family,” Togioka said.

Togioka said she plans to visit the school and meet parents in order to prepare for next fall. Interim director Jay Gense was appointed to manage both special schools until the end of the school year.

Togioka said her relations with the Salem-Keizer school district remain warm. Togioka said her experience at McKay has helped her prepare to become director.

“I have learned so much. That school is doing so well; the kids and staff are so wonderful,” Togioka said. “I feel so blessed that I can bring that with me.” or (503) 589-6941