Summit Speech School’s History

In the early 1960’s, May Gold and her husband moved from Atlanta, GA to Summit, NJ. While in Atlanta, May was an active member of the Junior League. One of its projects was working with deaf children using an auditory/oral method. May soon joined the Junior League in Summit and set about laying the groundwork for starting an oral school for New Jersey’s deaf children. The need was great, as a national epidemic of maternal rubella between 1962 and 1965 resulted in the birth of over 20,000 children with hearing loss.

May put ads in local papers to reach out to families with deaf children and to locate qualified teachers of the deaf. She was flooded with responses, especially from parents who were searching for a school that understood hearing loss and could help them and their deaf children.

May turned to Overlook Hospital and tenaciously presented her case. The hospital generously granted her use of a small, blue, three bedroom house at 34 Upper Overlook Road which previously housed nursing students. In 1967, Summit Speech School opened its doors with one classroom of rubella-deafened preschoolers, an orally-trained teacher of the deaf, and May Gold as founder and first President.

By 1984, the school had a thriving Early Intervention program to complement its preschool classes, and had outgrown its original home on Overlook Road. After renting additional space in three other locations in Summit, the time had come to seriously search for a location to build a state-of-the-art home for the school. A capital campaign was begun and money was raised to construct the new Summit Speech School.

C. R. Bard in New Providence was about to move its Corporate headquarters across Central Avenue to a larger location. Their original building was given to the town of New Providence with the understanding that the Summit Speech School would occupy the front 50,000 square feet for an initial period of 50 years – rent free. Thus the footprint of Bard’s building became the new home of Summit Speech School. With its careful attention to good acoustics, large airy classrooms, observations rooms, and dedicated rooms for speech, occupational, and physical therapy, the new Summit Speech School opened its doors in 1994.

Since that time, an Itinerant program was started to serve the school’s graduates as they become mainstreamed into their local schools. Throughout its history, Summit Speech School has remained true to its mission of enabling children with hearing loss to take their place in the hearing world by providing superior educational, therapeutic, and support services in a completely auditory/oral program.

Our oldest alumni are now adults living full, productive, independent lives, pursuing careers in the workforce, raising their children, and contributing to society.

Our scope is wide, our impact is great, our mission is clear: to teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing to listen and talk so that they may learn alongside their hearing peers.