What was the name and purpose of your gold award project?
The name of my Gold Award Project is “See the Voices.” The purpose of the project was to educate elementary school-aged children about the deaf community and to teach them basic sign language, finger spelling, and short, simple phrases in sign language. The overall goal in doing this was to allow them to feel comfortable with starting a conversation with someone who is deaf and uses sign language to communicate.
My feeling is…how wonderful it would be for someone who is deaf and
walking around (a hearing community) town, and there be a youngster
who is eager to communicate with them? I think that would brighten
their day and allow there to be less of a dividing line between the
deaf and hearing community. Additionally, by opening up this learning
avenue to young children, it “plants a seed” of interest, awareness,
and advocacy not only now but as they mature into their teenage
What sustainable impact did your Gold Award project have on the community?
I am proud to say that my project has been sustainable in the communities in which I was involved. I rotated between the Robbinsville and Ewing school districts and the support in both communities was overwhelming. Overall, I worked with each school’s after-school program and rotated between four different elementary schools. Students were onboard and looked forward to my sign language class each week. Parents asked questions and were interested to know how their child could continue learning and practicing the skills I taught.
To address this, I created a website called: allysigns.weebly.com.
This website provides an avenue for teachers, parents, and students
to utilize. I can validate too that this site is being used. I know
this because after my Gold Award hours came to a close in Robbinsville
School District (2017-2018 school year), the Director of the
after-school program was so impressed with my project that she offered
me an actual job working with the students the following school
year. As I have been working there through the 2018-2019 school year,
students and parents come to me to validate that they are utilizing
the resource I left behind.
What insights/takeaway did you gain from your project?
On a personal level, I took away a lot from doing this project. I
learned the very basics of how to prepare a lesson plan and manage a
classroom full of students while gaining exposure to teaching grades
K-3. This is an opportunity I could not have received doing anything
else. Additionally, I now am confident that I want my future career to
be based in a school environment and in working with young children. I
am considering becoming a teacher or speech pathologist in a school
setting. I hope to attend TCNJ after I graduate high school.
What is your favorite memory of completing your Gold Award project?
My favorite memories are tied to when I did my hours at Parkway
Elementary in Ewing, NJ. On my first day, I was warmly welcomed by
all. I connected with another student that worked there, and we became
friends, and we still check-in with each other every day. I connected
best with the students at this location, and I truly enjoyed teaching
my lessons. One thing that meant a lot was when one of my students (a
little girl) gave me a picture she drew of me after my first few
classes there. She told me I was her favorite teacher, and it left a
big imprint on my confidence in the classroom.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’d also like to say that I feel strongly that sign language and ASL should be offered in more high schools in the US for students to enroll in fulfilling their foreign language requirement. Because sign language is a visual language, it will serve as a better academic fit for the students that are visual learners. Deaf communities right here in the US can benefit from more of the American population knowing their language.