Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Mark Drolsbaugh--A Man with Many Hats

When I first came across Mark Drolsbaugh's books,Deaf Again and Anything But Silent I ordered both books right away. I tore through both books, laughing and nodding along. I felt as if Mark had wrote about my life! I had the opportunity to contribute a chapter of my life in his third book, On the Fence. I always recommend those three books to everyone I meet and my copies are always being lent out.

Mark is a great guy with a wonderful sense of humor and I sure hope he ends up on Oprah some day because he would have Oprah cracking up in the first fifteen minutes with his wry sense of humor.

I had Mark share a bit about his life:

Tell me what a typical day is like for you at work.

As a guidance counselor at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, I work primarily with the secondary department. Each grade level in high school has one advisory session per week. Advisory sessions last one hour and cover numerous topics with the goal of preparing students for college, vocational training, and/or the work force. In Junior High School, we run a weekly PALS session -- Peers and Leadership Skills -- with the goal of preparing students for the transition to high school. I also have the thrill of collaborating with the World of Work program at PSD which focuses on job skills and job placement. On top of all that, we're currently revising our counseling program so that its in accordance with the ASCA (American School Counselors Association) National Model--a lot of exciting changes are in store.

Usually there are two advisory sessions a day and there are also opportunities to join students in the classroom. On top of that there are individual grade/credit reviews for each student throughout the year and college visits, guest speakers, and community service. No two days are exactly alike so it never gets boring!

Is this a job, a career or a calling for you?

All of the above!

Give me a little history on how your life lead up to this current position at work.

Well, I was bumbling along as an accounting major at Temple University back in 1988 when there was this little incident at Gallaudet University that caught my attention. I transferred to Gallaudet in 1989 and went through a total metamorphosis. Gina Oliva (author of "Alone in the Mainstream: A Deaf Woman Remembers Public School") refers to this as the "Met Deaf, Wow!" phenomenon. The opportunity to attend a school with other deaf peers and role models had a profound impact. I switched majors and became a serious writer on the side. I wound up working a newspaper columnist for DeafNation, Silent News, and SIGNews for a while before branching off on my own writing projects.

What are some of the goals you've set for yourself down the road?

Quite frankly, I'm at a crossroads right now. It's exciting at PSD what with the counseling program aligning itself with ASCA. At the same time, my wife Melanie and I both run our own business, Handwave Publications, and what started out as a side endeavor has grown into something much bigger than expected. We've got three books published, a childrens' book is waiting in the wings, and I'm about to collaborate on another book with two former Gallaudet classmates.

Also, Handwave Publications isn't just for books -- we've got two websites up and running. They are Deaf Culture Online and Unique Fitness Tips. Deaf Culture Online
is more like an advocacy/informational website (with the infamous Drolz Uncensored blog included in there) while Unique Fitness Tips is designed for people who love to work out but simply don't have the time. It's a tremendous thrill to be able to run a home business that's based on your passion. I love the Deaf community and I'm a fitness fanatic, so to be able to write about both isn't a job -- it's a blessing. Somewhere down the road I'd love to see Handwave Publications expand and become a full-time commitment.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Josh Swiller Pens "The Unheard"

Josh Swiller has held many jobs. He's been a forest ranger, a raw food chef, teacher, a Zen monk, and he once crafted sheepskin slippers. He spent two years in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer.

After being fired from a law firm, Josh settled into a friend's barn and wrote The Unheard, a memoir of his two years in Kenya, Africa.

You can read more about Josh in an article that I wrote for Disaboom:

Peace Corps Years Inspire The Unheard

Josh blogs at Cochbla. For the time being, he's decided that being an author is a noble profession and he's hammering away at his next book.
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