Welcome to the The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf! We are a Pre-K to 12th grade school located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. We wish to recognize the responsibility entrusted to us to educate the deaf and hard-of-hearing in Southern Pennsylvania. We value our place in history, and pledge to uphold the legacy as leaders in the field of Deaf Education.
Here at PSD, we are committed to providing a quality education for our students with a challenging, interactive and integrated curriculum, which is aligned with the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards, and each student has an individualized education plan to ensure they stay on track with national standards. Teachers use a fully immersive, bilingual approach to ensure each student attains fluency in American Sign Language and English. We offer a wide range of extracurricular classes as well as leadership and involvement opportunities to supplement every child’s personal development.
We cultivate a dynamic, language-rich environment, which serves as a positive community model for children with hearing loss, and instills a positive self image.
Come join our vibrant community, and share in our legacy!
The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf educates students to succeed by recognizing and developing individual strengths, building confidence, collaborating with families and communities in a nurturing, dynamic, and language-rich environment steeped in cultural awareness of Deaf, Hearing, and worldwide diversity.
PSD empowers children with hearing loss by providing fully accessible services and a quality education so that they can become educated, productive and responsible members of society.
Language is the key to opening the world of learning to every child.
American Sign Language and English are both essential to students who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and/ or use cochlear implants or other assistive technology to build literacy and develop understanding and knowledge of the world.
Strategies that enhance and deepen our students’ knowledge include early language development and a language rich environment: sign language, spoken language, speech reading, and other language/communication tools.
All students are capable of setting goals, growing and achieving when guided, nurtured and challenged.
Our students thrive when they have the knowledge and skills they need to self-advocate, pose and solve problems, and become critical and creative thinkers.
Every individual has strengths and the ability to contribute to improve their community and the world. Our students thrive when the communities, which support them, partner with the school.
Our students are prepared for the 21st century by understanding multiple perspectives and valuing diversity.
Head of School
Dear PSD Community,
Most of you know that I will be leaving my position as the 17th Head of School of Pennsylvania School for the Deaf effective at the end of this school year, June 30, 2023, when the Board of Trustees shared the news with the Community last April 2022. It has been an honor to lead PSD for the total of 7 years including this school year. I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team on behalf of our school and staff.
I am convinced that PSD will continue to be an increasingly strong force in the field of Deaf Education. I am also exceedingly grateful to work with incredibly talented staff to design and deliver effective academic programs while nurturing a vibrant and truly diverse community. They have put in all the long hours and hard work necessary to boost the school from a small local institution to one that is regularly recognized on the national level. These are not accomplishments the Head of School makes alone. These are achievements that require a committed team of gifted, tenacious individuals who come together to work relentlessly for a common goal – our students.
In June 2022, the Board of Trustees then announced the appointment of Melissa Draganac-Hawk, then PSD’s Director of Student Affairs and a lifelong educator, to assume the role of Interim Head of School for a two-year term starting on July 1, 2023. This decision followed two months of extensive planning undertaken by PSD’s Head of School search committee, including meetings with three national search firms. Key factors that surfaced included several searches currently underway for Head of School positions at Deaf educational institutions across the country. PSD was exceptionally fortunate to have a highly qualified internal candidate.
Melissa is a Deaf Latina/x woman with over 20 years of experience in the education field. She has previously held numerous roles at PSD, including serving as Director of Early Childhood Education, and has also served as an adjunct professor of American Sign Language at the University of Pennsylvania. I am thrilled about the Board’s decision to appoint her to the Interim Head of School role. Melissa and I have worked together closely since I started here in 2016, and I am also fully confident in her ability to lead the school. We will continue to work together to carry on the school’s mission, and to ensure a smooth transition.
As part of this transition, I have appointed Melissa as the interim Associate Head of School for this school year, 2022-2023, before she becomes an interim Head of School starting on July 1, 2023. I know that Melissa is excited to take on these new responsibilities, to continue upholding PSD’s long tradition of excellence in Deaf education, and to build upon the great strides we have made over the past six years, too.
Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Melissa to her new role.
Peter L. Bailey
Head of School
Peter L. Bailey
Interim Associate Head of School
Director of Human Resources
Director of Finance
Director of Institutional Advancement
Director of Academic Affairs
Patricia Saar McFadden
Director of Student Affairs
Director of Operations
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Elementary & Middle School Principal
High School & Transition Program Principal
Supervisor of Special Education Program
Sarah Ruth McDevitt
Supervisor of Early Education Programs
Supervisor of Related Services
Board of Trustees
Alexander Bilus, Esq.
Michael Greenfield, Esq.
Peter L. Bailey
Head of School
Dr. Beth Benedict
Edward H. Bosso, Jr.
Dr. Elizabeth Moore
Dr. Benjamin J. Soukup
Dr. Kenneth Veit
Shannon Farmer, Esq.
Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) was founded in 1820 as the third school of its kind in the nation and has become a leading resource in the field of Deaf Education.
Founded by Philadelphia merchant, David Seixas, the first principal, PSD held its first classes in his private home on Market Street, west of 16th Street.
About a year later, PSD relocated to a building on the southeast corner of Eleventh and Market Streets. The renowned Deaf Frenchman Laurent Clerc, who sailed to America with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, became PSD’s second principal in 1821. Prior to PSD, he along with Gallaudet and Dr. Mason Cogswell, founded the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1817.
In 1825, PSD moved to its first official school building, at the corner of Broad and Pine Streets. The site is now occupied by the University of the Arts, and PSD classes were held in what is presently Haviland Hall.
Almost seventy years later, in 1892, the school moved again. Mt. Airy had a spacious thirty-three acre property. Fourteen buildings were constructed to accommodate all students and staff. PSD resided there for 92 years, until declining enrollment and related economic factors required that the school relocate.
In 1984, PSD purchased its current home, the former Germantown Academy Campus, and completely renovated it while preserving its unique historic character. Many of the buildings on PSD’s Germantown campus have a rich history. Some date from the Revolutionary War times, when the school was used as a hospital during the Battle of Germantown. Six British soldiers are reportedly buried on the campus. During the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1792, both the Pennsylvania State Assembly and the U.S. Congress took refuge in PSD’s buildings. President George Washington also set up a temporary office in the Administration Building and held cabinet meetings there.
After settling down on the Germantown Campus, PSD has continued a tradition of excellence in Deaf Education.