St. Joseph Institute: Serving the Unserved

                       Cheryl Broekelmann, (right) SJI's director of St. Louis operations, and her staff welcomed more than 75 people to SJI's open house on March 26.

A Q&A with SJI’s Director of Development Zareena Koch

By Jenny Beatrice

St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf (SJI) recently expanded its location in Brentwood, Missouri. Learn how their new space allows them to better serve their students and their families, both onsite in the classroom and through its innovative online iHear program.

What was the goal of the expansion and redesign? 

We needed a space that reflected what we do, who we serve and how they want to receive services. We worked with a designer who happens to be a parent of a deaf child, so he wove in design elements that he felt were helpful for families.

What are some of the features of the new building?

We love the clean look and the integrated technology in every room. And we especially love the features that are a nod to our past, like the archives wall, as well as elements that speak to our future, such as desks that take into account therapists doing our online iHear sessions for hours.

What kind of students are you serving with your onsite programs?

Families come to us relatively soon after receiving a devastating diagnosis. We want the space to be warm and welcoming, so we have a fireplace in the front room, comfy chairs for adults and toys for kids.  Rooms are big, airy and focused on creating a relationship and promoting learning—for both kids and their parents. 

How does the building enhance the online iHear program as well?

Our integrated, dedicated technologies allow the therapists to stand up or sit down when they work. The souped-up tech requirements mean our services are steady and dependable.  There’s little down time due to loss of internet services.

How does the new building help enhance the SJI experience?

Families love this new place, and we have received referrals after our opening that resulted in placement. In addition, we’ve hosted several peripheral events for other groups like the Sisters of St. Joseph and Fontbonne University because we have this amazing space. 

How does the new facility help SJI to continue to serve the needs of the times?

As we move forward, serving more families through better methods than ever, this center has given us a chance to look “backward.” This mission is focused on serving the unserved of today with the technology and skills that developed over long periods of time. Literally standing on the shoulders of giants, the sisters of our past formed and are still forming our future—one child at a time.  


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