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ASL at WHS is a Labor of Love

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Walkersville High School is like a walk-in news broadcast. Everyday there are morning announcements, sports highlights, school club reminders.. You name it! The school is very vocal and that’s the main way to “spread the word.” This is what works for most of the students and staff, however, this isn’t ideal for our Deaf teachers and students.

This high school is one of the few in the county to offer ASL as a world language. In the past Mr. Dan Frank was the only Deaf teacher in the school. He’s been here now for nine years, just recently he has been accompanied with another ASL teacher, Betsie Kulikov. Being a Deaf teacher in a hearing school has to have some challenges. So, Dan Frank dove right into the details on what truly goes on in his perspective.
Imagine going to a Deaf school as a student or a teacher, you wouldn’t understand the majority of what’s being said.. now you’re just imagining. For ASL teachers teaching at hearing schools this is their everyday life. There is a lot to adjust to, however, Dan Frank shared how he thrives with what he’s got. Explaining that he has to set up a strict rule that ¨Student’s are NOT to use any vocals and remain silent” throughout his class.

Getting deeper into the challenges he faces Frank brought up some very valid points. Communication can be a very big issue, although he doesn’t let this bring him down. His main problem is that even after all these years, communication still remains his main contester. “When I walk around the school, they all talk while I never understand anything at all. I got used to it after many years.”. Frank only wishes that more students would take ASL and the staff learn some to, he even offered holding an ASL crash course after school hours.

Even with the issues he faces, Dan Frank finds light in it all. He appreciates every student who takes ASL and dives into Deaf Culture, the teachers that greet him in the hallways, and watching ASL spread through the school through his teachings. When asked what he likes about teaching here he replied “I love teaching here… many students start the first day and proceed to the end of the semester. Then they have mastered ASL. This makes me feel great and happy.”

For those who can’t sign ASL, this is the chance to hear his voice and it is loud and proud. Frank has opened eyes to many student’s and teachers with an everlasting passion. It can be argued that Walkersville High School has a couple steps to take to make the environment Deaf friendly. However students are on the right road, when asked if he feels welcome here his words were, “Yes. Definitely, they are a spiritual school. I can see that they are a strong family and community.”

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