Stu Harper has worked at the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD) in Danville for 21 years.
“I love working with youth,” he said. “They’re fun, they learn quickly, they’re interested in the world, and I think it keeps me young.”
With master’s degrees in Deaf education and school counseling, Harper serves as the school guidance counselor at KSD. With KSD being a K-12 school, his work can range from helping younger students learn to communicate with peers to helping high school students with college preparation.
“I’ve seen lots of kids go through that whole full educational career, and then to see them go on to college, see them get jobs and families, and be successful in their lives. There’s no better reward than that; to know that you had a small part in that,” said Harper.
Harper became interested in learning more about the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community after proofreading a classmate’s thesis on the Deaf community. He said he was fascinated and began taking American Sign Language (ASL) lessons and attending meetings at a local club for Deaf and Hard of Hearing members After learning ASL, he decided he wanted to become a teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Prior to joining KSD, Harper was a secretary for a cancer center, where he used his knowledge of ASL to help the center’s doctors and patients to communicate with each other.
He also had a six-month internship with KSD before it became his full-time job.
“Seeing people go through that process and helping in the medical care field made an impression,” Harper said.
Currently, Harper collaborates with new KSD interim principal, Lynn Petrey, to help students find jobs and to support them in making decisions after high school by getting them more involved in the community
He is the recipient of a Kentucky Department of Education Strategic Excellence and Achievement Award, which is given to employees who go above and beyond in their work for the agency.
Harper, and his wife Cris, have three sons and reside in Danville. When not working, he is active with his Boy Scouts troop and enjoys troop activities such as camping, hiking and canoeing.