Read the Q & A below to find out more about Thomas’ ASL program below:
Q: How many ASL classes does FHS have?
A: I have about one hundred-twenty students in levels one, two and three.
Q: How do you conduct your ASL classes?
A: Basically, I teach through immersion, so I am rarely every using my voice in class. This helps to assure the students are dependent on the actual acquisition of ASL in class. It also gives them the perspective of how a deaf person would feel. That is really important for me to help students realize that you can’t always rely on your voice for people to understand you. It’s a challenge for Freshmen who are scared, and sweet, but once they get to level two, they are super comfortable with me just signing. We tell funny stories at the beginning of class, just to get them back into signing after the couple of days off for the weekend.
Q: What types of projects do your classes participate in?
A: My level three students are looking into signing the National Anthem at the home Football games. My level two students are going to start learning about deaf artists; they will mimic an artist’s piece, create one of their own, and then present it to the class. We will also do a deaf Artober, where we will follow a deaf friend of mine, using those ideas each day by bringing them into the classroom to consider deaf culture and use our ASL knowledge.
Q: Tell us about the Level Two student’s design project they recently completed.
A: My level two students were learning about different textiles and different articles of clothing and then ASL signs that correlate with those English words. They had to make a portfolio of different outfits, and it was really awesome to see how creative they got. Then they came up in front of the class and presented their two favorite outfits in full ASL.
Q: How do you think ASL and the things your students learn in your class help them with their futures?
A: I think the awareness that they get is the best part. Even just through my experience as a hearing person being part of the deaf community, I am able to help my deaf friends. I tell my students that it’s the best feeling when you can help someone that most people look over, who are marginalized and discriminated against because they are deaf. It is just awesome to teach kids inclusivity and the vitality of empathy, and know that just because they learned ASL they can help someone.