On November 18, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2021 Health and Human Services Hero Awards to recognize individuals who are making a bold difference right here in the Central Valley. We will highlight the ten honorees in our Heroes Blog Series.

EHenderson2Name: Elizabeth Henderson 

Occupation: Middle School Teacher, California School for the Deaf 

Nominated by: The Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies 

From a young age, Elizabeth Henderson always knew she was meant to be a teacher. But it was during her sophomore year, when she took her first deaf education class at Fresno State, that she realized she specifically wanted to become a Deaf educator. With supportive Deaf professors, interpreting services and small classes that encouraged participation, she went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Deaf Education in 2012.

Now a middle school science teacher at the California School for the Deaf in Riverside, California, Henderson  is able to bring that same support and compassion to her students. She treats each day as a challenge, and looks to new research and best practices to enhance her teaching skills and to push students to grow holistically. 

“Seeing my students change and develop, grow and learn, challenging what they know and reshaping their understanding of the world is what motivates me,” Henderson said. 

In 2019, Henderson received the prestigious Presidential Award of Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching, given annually to educators who go above and beyond to ensure their students’ thrive. She credits her success to the teaching pedagogy she learned at Fresno State, and its unique Deaf Education program, which provides students with the skills necessary to excel in a variety of educational settings. Henderson vividly recalls her professors placing special emphasis on providing kind and compassionate support for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, and helping their families through their journey of acceptance. 

“It was at Fresno State that I learned to accept and be proud of my own Deafness,” Henderson said. “My instructors modeled firsthand how to support that acceptance process, and that is a treasured skill I bring into my own career now.”

A proud alumna, she maintains her connections to the  Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies and Fresno State through her long-standing relationships with past professors, many of whom have become her colleagues. While her career and three children keep her busy, Henderson also enjoys supporting the work of The Silent Garden program at Fresno State, particularly lectures on Deaf education. 

The 2021 Health and Human Services Hero Awards, which celebrates heroes from each of the seven departments, as well as centers and institutes within our college, will be held virtually this year. For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at bwilkinson@csufresno.edu.