San Antonio school receives $25,000 H-E-B Excellence Award

Sunshine Cottage School for the Deaf hoping to reach more families

SAN ANTONIO – With a $25,000 award in hand, the Sunshine Cottage School for the Deaf is hoping to reach more students.

With the help of “Jack” the tarantula, kids at the Sunshine Cottage School for the Deaf can feel a spider, but it’s the Soundfield speaker and microphone system that allows them to hear all about it. It’s just one piece of technology that the Sunshine Cottage School for the Deaf utilizes so well in its early childhood education program that prompted a cash prize from the H-E-B Excellence in Education awards.

Belinda Pustka, executive director of the school, said the school now in its seventh decade has changed dramatically to be a part of the modern world. “I started first grade in 1960 and what was available for children back then was so totally different from what is available now,” Pustka said. “It is that modern technology and what we know with cochlear implants, it's just a different world."

Seven hundred lives are impacted each year at the school, so H-E-B’s $25,000 award will help reach more kids and parents. It’s the first year the school has won an award of this type, and it’s believed its emphasis on the school’s 50-year-old parent/baby program took it to the top of the list.

“What we do with that program is we really emphasize the parent as the first teacher. So our parents come in once a week and with a hearing-impaired advisor and help them as to how you raise a child with hearing impairment in a language-rich environment,” Pustka explained.

Four hundred babies participated last year and with the new funds, more may be reached. The school turns no one away from hearing-impaired instruction, so more clients are expected every year.

Other awards were given to Delia McLerran, principal at the Young Woman’s Leadership Academy in San Antonio Independent School District, as well as the Somerset ISD school board. 

To date, H-E-B has given away more than $8 million in cash and grants since 2002. A total of $430,000 was personally handed out this year by H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt.