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Meet Our Students: Molly

At the Deaf Academy we are focused on supporting our young people to become the best they can be, dreaming big and working hard to achieve their goals and overcoming challenges with determination and pride in their identity.

One student who has been striving for excellence ever since she joined the Deaf Academy is 16-year-old College student Molly, a budding actress with a real passion for drama studies.

Molly joined the Deaf Academy as a residential school student in 2015. She had previously attended a mainstream school where she hadn’t yet discovered her talent for acting. The Deaf Academy helped her develop her confidence and she realised she had a passion for performing on stage.

Deb Thomas
Expressive Arts Teacher
“When I started teaching Molly drama I could see she had natural ability. It would be fantastic if she became a Deaf actor in the future as there are not many similar role models for Deaf young people.”

Molly and many of our students’ dramatic flair is nurtured through regular Expressive Arts classes. Working with local theatre company PaddleBoat, many of our students have become accomplished actors, regularly performing different shows to hundreds of people at Exeter Phoenix Theatre.

Katy Dash
Paddleboard Theatre Company Artistic Director
"Molly is an exceptional performer. She has grown and improved so much throughout the time we have been working together. She is now a role model and we hope she will inspire the students who are coming up behind her.”

Drama is an important subject here at the Deaf Academy, and ties in closely with studying English. At the Deaf Academy most of our students use British Sign Language (BSL) as their first language, and our learning environment is bilingual with students learning in both BSL and English. Our aim is to give our students the means to communicate and to make their feelings, opinions and needs understood, whilst thriving in a community where they can also understand and feel included.

Deb Thomas
English teacher
"Drama is important for Deaf students as it helps them understand English text in a practical way. British Sign Language lends itself to theatrical performances as it’s a beautiful and poetic style of communication which makes a huge impact on the audience."

Molly’s achievements include winning the prestigious National Deaf Children’s Society’s (NDCS) ‘Raising the Bar’ competition.

The project strives to raise expectations of what Deaf children and young people can achieve within dance, drama and music. Molly was selected out of contestants from across the country by highly acclaimed arts industry Deaf professionals.

Her prize was to take part in a masterclass with co-founder and Artistic Director of Deafinitely Theatre Paula Garfield, and professional Deaf actor and BSL Zone regular William Grint.

“When I got a place on Raising the Bar I was like ‘Wow!’ I felt so proud. The masterclass was amazing. I felt nervous but also excited – the first day I couldn’t eat I had so many butterflies! I took part in lots of drama activities including acting out a phone conversation between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. My brother William helped me to polish my skills in movement, emotions and facial expressions. I was very nervous for the showcase finale but William helped me to practice and soon I was ready to face the audience. I’ve really improved my acting and I would love to keep studying drama in the future.”

Molly is the Chair of the Deaf Academy Student Council, and sits as a member of the NDCS Young People’s Advisory Board (YAB).

She was chosen from a group of 60 young people to join the board, which is made up of 16 deaf young people aged between 13-17 from across the UK.

Having achieved her Drama GCSE at school, alongside core subjects, Molly has now moved up to college.

She will work towards her Level 1 Drama qualification at local Exeter College, as well as continuing to study English, Maths and BSL at the Deaf Academy, alongside independent living skills.

Molly's mum
“Although Molly is profoundly Deaf she has always enjoyed learning new skills. Thanks to the Deaf Academy she has had the opportunity to discover and develop a passion for acting. She has found drama helps her express herself in a way that she hadn’t been able to before. Her family are so proud of her achievements and I would like to thank her Expressive Arts Teacher, Deb, for all her encouragement and making Molly’s dream come true.”

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