In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Remembering Barbara Rose Schirmer
  • Peter V. Paul

Barbara Rose Schirmer, one of the most remarkable scholars in our field, passed away on February 3, 2023. As indicated on the website (https://orlandsmemorial-chapel.com/barbara-schirmer/), Barbara obtained her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in education from the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively. Barbara really had a remarkable career, entailing stints as an academic professor, an administrator (dean, vice president for academic affairs, provost), and freelancing as an editor/consultant. I am inspired to keep the “R word” (i.e., retirement) out of my vocabulary for as long as possible—Barbara never really retired from her scholarly pursuits.

If memory serves me right, I only met Barbara in person twice during the 1990s at the annual meetings of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in sessions sponsored by the Special Interest Group for Research on the Education of Deaf Persons (obviously, I don’t really remember the exact years). We also corresponded via emails when she submitted manuscripts for review to the Annals. At the AERA conferences, I obtained a sense of her research acumen and her somewhat feisty (read: spunky) demeanor in not only delivering her presentations but also asking probing questions for other presenters. Barbara might have been a little feisty at this one meeting, but she was really considerate and facilitative for other young researchers.

At another meeting, Barbara teased me (a little) about the use of my word “proclivity.” I had this habit of attempting to impress other scholars with my use of—well—esoteric words during my presentation or discussion of issues. Apparently, this word was better than another one that I had used earlier in the meeting—“ilk.”

Barbara was a prolific scholar with books and journal articles on topics ranging from language and literacy to evidence-based practices to cognitive development to educational leadership. I remember feeling envious when her book, Language and Literacy Development in Children Who are Deaf was published—and then there was a second edition to increase the envy as well as my respect (Schirmer, 2000a). Barbara’s description of models and strategies for instruction was not only supported by her selection of theory and research, but also were explicated for teachers to use in the classroom from preschool through high school.

To drive home the point that theory and research should have practical implications, you’ll have to peruse Barbara’s Teaching the Struggling Reader (Schirmer, 2009). Her mantra is that any reading/literacy program should be based on the needs of the reader, not the other way [End Page 125] around. After recommending an assessment to document possible areas of need, Barbara demonstrated how to incorporate already-known teacher’s strategies into lesson plans, thus saving time and energy—and more important—effectively addressing the challenges of struggling readers. This “innovative” approach permits teachers to stick to their usual instructional style and still meet the requirements of any particular reading program.

Because of my interests in language and literacy, I am mostly cognizant of Barbara’s work in this area. I was impressed by her research on reading strategies and related areas (Schirmer, 2003; Schirmer et al., 2004: Schirmer & Schaffer, 2010; Schirmer et al., 2012; Schirmer et al., 2009). Then, there was that blockbuster analysis of the relevancy of findings of the National Reading Panel for d/Deaf and hard of hearing children and adolescents (Schirmer & McGough, 2005).

My intense focus on literacy probably caused me to overlook some of the other talents and expertise of Barbara. I have not read The Psychological, Social, and Educational Dimensions of Deafness (Schirmer, 2000b). This seems to be a book for professionals such as counselors or psychologists; however, a quick skim indicates that it would also be beneficial for educators. I need to put this on my summer reading list.

Barbara Rose Schirmer possessed a relentless, energetic spirit, which was harnessed to produce works and provide services to improve the lives of children and adolescents who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing. She certainly contributed to the professional development of teachers and other educators. No doubt...

pdf