An elementary school in Maine is going above and beyond to welcome a 6-year-old kindergarten, who is the school’s first deaf student. Dayton Consolidated School was inspired by the girl’s story and wanted to make her feel welcome, which is why the school embraced the opportunity to begin to teach students sign language.
To make it easier for the students, teachers used visuals by putting sign language posters on the hallways showing the sign and the movement of that certain word. According to Principal Kimberly Sampietro, the students have learned more than 20 words, including letters, colors, and words related to school.
The deaf kindergartener, Morey, is being praised by Sampietro, saying she has already taught the students so much without even knowing, by bringing culture to the school. The school installed a hearing assistive system and implement extra teacher training to incorporate American sign language in every classroom, including core subjects, computer, and music classes. Teachers have been reportedly using their free time to watch sign language videos and touch up on books on special education.
Kindergartens also have the advantage to get help from Morey, who has helped them learn the alphabet. Morey’s mother, Shannon Belanger, said her family has been more than blown by how supportive the school has been, making her daughter feel more than welcomed. To celebrate the students’ hard work, the school invited a “real-life princess Cinderella” who knows sign language, to come to sing and speak with the students.
Principal Sampietro stated, “We wanted to show our students that this isn’t something they can only speak with Morey. Most students in their rural Maine school have not encountered many people with hearing impairment. We wanted to show them that signing happens in all kinds of settings.”
I think this is a great idea, beginners sign language should be taught in schools at an early age. Or at least as an elective, that way students can connect with those students who feel like they can’t communicate with them because they are deaf. These educators are doing it right! Three cheers for Dayton Consolidated School!