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In the Spotlight - Candy Tumblson

Posted Date: 03/30/2021

In the Spotlight - Candy Tumblson


Candy Tumblson is In The Spotlight

Candy grew up in Rockford, Illinois. Although she was born hearing, she started to lose her hearing at the age of 5. By the age of 15, despite having 2 hearing aids, Candy was struggling in school as her hearing loss continued to progress. One challenge she faced in high school was that she didn’t have an alarm clock to wake up for school, so her best friend drove to her house every morning and woke her up so she could get ready. By her senior year, Candy was very frustrated and struggling by being the only deaf student in the school. She wanted to transfer to another school that had other deaf kids who signed, but was not allowed. At this point she had never met another deaf person, she had never learned sign language, and had never even seen ASL in person. 
After graduating high school, she decided  to go to a community college in Chicago that served 100 other deaf students. Candy enrolled in the interpreter program to start learning and developing her ASL.

By October, only 3 short months later, she was starting to pick up the language. A group of deaf friends from her college invited her to Gallaudet University for Homecoming that year. When Candy arrived, she walked in the cafeteria and was in shock. There were hundreds of deaf who were all signing and communicating with ease. She took a tour of campus, fell in love with the library, and decided she wanted to transfer to Gallaudet. No one from her community college had ever passed the test needed to be accepted. Candy still wanted to try though, so she took the test and passed.

When Candy transferred to Gallaudet she continued to pick up ASL very quickly, as she was starving for language. Candy tried to get in the department of education but was not successful in doing so. She had to declare a major by the end of her sophomore year, so she chose psychology. There she met Linda Beavert, a former superintendent secretary here at OSD, who at that time worked for I King Jordan.

In Candy's junior year she was accepted into the department of education. After 3 years at Gallaudet with countless memories and friends made (many of whom are still her friends today) she decided to transfer back home to Chicago where she graduated from Northern Illinois University as a teacher.

After graduation, Candy applied everywhere for a teaching job, but had no luck. For a year, she was a sub at an inner city school in Chicago where she taught multiple classes, including drivers education. After that year her sister moved to Oklahoma City, so Candy decided to move with her. Candy filled out an application for OSD, got an interview, was hired, and is still here 33 years later. Her first day was August 15, 1988. Her first day, she came into the school to teach and realized she was the only deaf teacher. Travis Chebultz’s grandparents had just retired in May, and Candy started in August. She was the only deaf teacher for 3 years before Jeff Cooper came to work at OSD. Then as years went on, more and more deaf were hired. 

Her first year at OSD, Candy set up a chapter of Jr NAD and then took over Student Council. She asked the kids what they wanted for their school. The students commented “no one has ever asked us that before”. They said “We want a trophy case. We go and win all these trophies but don’t know where they are.”. So Candy went on a hunt for all of the trophies. She found them in closets, janitor supply closets, and various places all over campus because there was no place to put them. She then wrote a letter to her dad who was a retired woodcrafter and told him she needed a trophy case. He asked her to draw what she wanted it to look like. After Candy drew what she envisioned for the trophy case, the woodshop class and maintenance worked together to complete the project. Candy’s dad even drove down from Chicago twice to assist in the building process, and that is how we got the trophy case in the Student Union.

“If I never do another thing for OSD, I know I have given my heart and soul to this school.”

Candy has been at OSD for 33 years. For 28 of those years, she has driven a bus.

When she was in early childhood they would plan trips but they couldn’t get it approved because they didn’t have enough vans and there was no one to drive a bus for the trips. Candy approached Mr. Ramo, who was the transportation officer at the time, and asked him if he could teach her how to drive a bus. He told her yes and sent her to bus school. Candy has been driving an OSD bus for 28 years. 

She has also been a class sponsor and taught multiple grades and subjects. She has taught kindergarten through 6th grade as well as high school.

Candy also loves ASL. She has taught it here at OSD, at Gallaudet University, Oklahoma City University, Murray State College, Ardmore Higher Ed, Southern Tech, and various other places.

After 33 years, Candy is retiring from OSD. Her impact on the staff and students will remain as well as her contributions with her time, energy, love, and the trophy case. Candy’s goal for retirement is to get a food truck and sell coffee and confections. 


Good luck, Candy! Thank you for all you have done for OSD through the years. We will miss you!