CBSN

No Apple For This Teacher

In a reversal of roles, a high school senior has made a huge and lasting difference in her teacher's life, The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman reports.

The teacher is Shellee Carrick whose high school classroom is eerily silent, but whose personality shines through the silence.

Carrick is deaf, but she is hugely popular with her students, who all can hear.

"How cool she is," student Kristina Coleman says. "How much she can do even though she is deaf, and how influential she is for all the students."

Just how influential? Well, Coleman decided for her senior project, she'd give her deaf teacher the ability to hear.

Coleman says, "I was, like, that would be a cool project."

She immediately went to work raising money for a hearing device called a cochlear implant.

Carrick says, "I've wanted cochlear implant for five years, but I knew I couldn't afford it."

The implant helps deaf people hear through an electrode surgically inserted into the inner ear. Doctors then place a magnet outside the ear, and a microphone in it. Sounds are transmitted from the outer ear to the inner ear through the cochlear device.

For Carrick, the most precious sound would be her children's laughter.

She says, "My family tells me, 'Oh they're so cute; they have cute voice.' I wish I heard them."

Her husband, Sam Carrick, says, "The kids have a hard time communicating with her. They can understand her fine and completely, but sometimes Austin will be upset and say, 'Dad, just tell mom.'"

The implants alone cost $75,000; surgery to implant them costs more.

Coleman notes, "I researched the Internet for assistance programs forever, and just e-mailed everyone I could."

Coleman got the whole school involved. She says, "I did a competition between her classes at school and they got a pizza party for whoever could raise the most."

Through her fundraising and a grant she obtained for a free device, Carrick got the surgical implant. And Coleman was there with Carrick's family several weeks later when doctors were ready to test the device.

Doctors fit the magnet to her head; then checked the connection with a computer. Finally, it was the moment Shellee Carrick had been waiting for: the implant was turned on.

One at a time family members got to say 'I love you' in words rather than sign language.

"A mother's dream for her daughter, to hear," Trudi Clark, Carrick's mom, says crying. "I used to think that I hoped someday in the next life, I could go up behind her, say her name, and see her turn around, look at me, and it's going to happen in this life. Pretty wonderful."

As For Shellee Carrick's greatest wish, to be able to hear her own children, she says with tears in her eyes," I hear her!" as she points to her screaming daughter.

It seems wishes do come true when there's a determined high school student to make it happen.

"A lot of people didn't think this could happen," Coleman says. "It just shows when you put your mind to something, you can do it, if you really want to."

Shellee Carrick says, "Now, I hear everything around me. It makes me so happy."