KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee School for the Deaf has become a place where students who are deaf and hard of hearing can learn in an environment they're comfortable in.
"This is like my home school. I wanted to come back to where my friends were," said Wilma, a junior at the school.
Students said the bonds they form feel like family.
"My mom calls it, like, you know, like going to your friend's house every day, and I enjoy it," said Triston, a sophomore at the school.
The students return to a school where for the first time, their superintendent is also deaf, giving the staff and students another connection.
"I'm just excited about the opportunity of working with a great group of people that are very passionate about the deaf education here in Tennessee. That's the exciting part for me," Dr. NancyLynn Ward said.
The students at the school range from elementary to high school, and some even stay on campus They face the same everyday challenges as kids in public schools do, but with a slight twist.
"What distracts me are lights that flash, or people walking by or people signing, things that catch my eye, or people banging on the table, those vibrations are distracting. But most of the time if I turn off my hearing aids and make it completely quiet, I can focus more," Wilma said.
With a brand new start to the year and the new superintendent, Tennessee School for the Deaf is striving to make sure the school is a safe, comfortable, environment students from all over Tennessee will enjoy and want to call home.
"Bring new technology, new curriculum, new ideas and work on people's potential and show that new vision of what TSD will look like for our state," Dr. Nancylynn Ward said as she described her goals for the year.