ULPHUR— Oklahoma School for the Deaf will have new leadership for the upcoming 2019 school year.
A familiar face, Chris Dvorak, will be changing roles at OSD as he transitions from school principal to superintendent.
“The experience has been overwhelming, a lot of support,” Dvorak said. “A lot of encouragement, it makes me happy to know that I have a lot of resources that I can lean on. Just excitement.“
Originally from Altus, Dvorak moved with his family to Ardmore while he was in first grade.
After graduating from Ardmore High School, Dvorak went to Southeastern Oklahoma State University where he received his bachelor of arts degree in marketing.
Like most Americans, things changed drastically in Dvorak’s life following the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Answering Uncle Sam’s call, Dvorak enlisted in the United States Army.
Dvorak served in the Army for three years with one tour in Iraq before being medically discharged due to an illness.
After military life, Dvorak entered into a program called “Troops to Teachers” which helps former military personnel find a career in teaching.
“It was a big change from Army life to teaching,” Dvorak said. “Education hadn’t even crossed my mind before being presented with the Troops to Teachers opportunity, It just sort of seemed to be the right thing to do.“ Dvorak and his wife Christi then moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area where he taught at the Winfree Academy charter school.
After teaching in Texas for three years, Dvorak and his wife decided a smaller town would be best to start and raise a family, so they moved back to Ardmore. Dvorak now has three children, Joe, Cora and Daniel.
Dvorak taught middle and high school mathematics in Lone Grove, Wilson, and Ardmore City Schools.
In 2014, Dvorak went back to school and earned a master’s degree in education at East Central University.
After earning his master’s, Dvorak served as the assistant principal at Ardmore High School.
After two years of serving as the assistant principle for AHS, Dvorak made another move.
Oklahoma School for the Deaf had an opening for principal, an opportunity Dvorak couldn’t resist.
“There was a vacancy that needed to be filled,” Dvorak said. “I had no knowledge of deaf culture, couldn’t sign yes from no. It was just an opportunity that fell out of the sky.“
After not knowing how to use American Sign Language, Dvorak now considers himself fluent. Dvorak said he improved his knowledge of the language by not being afraid of joining in on conversations he deemed over his head.
“The lack of fear of looking really stupid has benefited me,” Dvorak said. “Having to have complicated in-depth conversations daily for the last three years has really catapulted my development in ASL.“
Dvorak has been the superintendent for the last two weeks, and has embraced the role. Enjoying going to work everyday, and helping the hearing impaired learn is what drives Dvorak.
As superintendent, Dvorak hopes to continue serving the deaf community.
“What we provide is not just an education meant for deaf and hard of hearing students, but a social experience,” Dvorak said. “That may be even more important for developing of relationships. It is a window into a life of equality, the opportunity to grow without seeing yourself as different or being limited.”