Plainville High School Offers American Sign Language Course
Posted on 09/30/2019
rachel posner teaching a class of american sign language Students at Plainville High School have an additional elective course available this year, as an “American Sign Language 1” class has been added to the high school’s course selection options. Taught by Plainville resident and educator Rachel Posner, the course has been popular with high school students thus far. Sixteen students, together with the district’s Director of Curriculum, Rosa M. Pérez, are currently enrolled.
During a recent lesson, students began the session with an interactive vocabulary quiz competition in teams, followed by a whole class vocabulary review and sentence development practice, as the students broke into pairs to practice conversation using sign language. Throughout the lesson, Posner gave examples from her own life as a deaf person, and that of her family, including her husband who is also an educator, and her two children, all of whom are deaf. Posner also infused the lesson with practical tips and information about the deaf culture, providing students with examples of the importance of using body language, facial expressions, and differentiation for words that have more than one meaning.
According to Curriculum Director Pérez, the course has been offered in the past to students with disabilities as part of their Independent Educational Plans, but this is the first time it has been opened up to the general high school population, and it continues to grow in popularity as the semester unfolds. Students who successfully complete the course receive a language credit and are also eligible to earn the Seal of Bi-literacy upon graduation. Pérez also noted that both American Sign Language 1 & 2 courses will be offered next year.
While only a month into the school year, students in the course are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about their experiences to date. Sophomore Peyton Stehle said she loves the class and noted that Posner has been a great instructor who is very helpful and supportive of their learning. Senior Nyasia Almedina was interested in taking the course because it was the first year it was offered, and she wanted to learn another language. “Everyone in the class is comfortable with each other and even comfortable making mistakes together as we learn,” she said. Senior Mackenzie Pye explained that her interest in taking the course stemmed from a part time job she holds at a local grocery store, where a deaf customer would try to communicate with her. “I couldn’t communicate with him, and it was frustrating to me, so when I saw that this class was being offered, I thought it was a great opportunity,” she explained. “It’s been awesome and Mrs. Posner makes sure we learn a lot but also have a lot of fun!” Junior Tianna Durham, who is hard of hearing, met Posner last year and decided to take the course so that she could communicate and also teach others, because everyone will meet deaf people in life, she noted. “Mrs. Posner has been very inspiring as a teacher – I am very grateful to have her here in school, it has been life changing for me.”
Posner will also work with a group of hearing impaired students and their peers at Louis Toffolon Elementary School this year through the school’s first “Happy Hands Club.” Plainville High School students Nate Berube and Sam Cretella, who are currently enrolled in the ASL course with Posner at PHS, will serve as volunteers supporting Posner and the elementary level program, along with other students who are interested in participating as the year goes on.
“They always say, love the work you do and you’ll never work a day in your life, so true. When the bell rings I am always disappointed when the class is over for it is very engaging. As a teacher you try to maintain the energy in class, but what an awesome session that the energy is met and reciprocated. I am very proud to be part of this community; it’s a professional and personal investment as I’ve been looking for ways to give back,” said Posner.
"American Sign Language is a great example of the continued choice we try to add to our students’ lives at PHS. We are incredibly fortunate to have the support of the Board of Education and administration to be able to offer this course for our students,” commented Plainville High School Principal, Carl Johnson.
Posner and her family were part of a documentary produced last year by A & E highlighting the lives of three deaf families in the United States. In addition to being an instructor at Plainville High School, she also works for the Wethersfield, Connecticut school system exclusively with deaf students, teaches at Naugatuck Community College and owns her own business where she assists the deaf community in a variety of capacities. In addition, she works with the Connecticut Domestic Violence Association to support the deaf population in that capacity. She has a background in Social Work, and taught at the American School for the Deaf for 15 years.