School’s sign language effort recognised
St Theresa’s School in Plimmerton has won an award for promoting New Zealand Sign Language, after only including it in curriculum at the beginning of this year.
A deaf pupil began in the new entrants class in term 1, and sign language is needed to communicate with him.
The school received the New Zealand Sign Language in Schools award at the national sign language awards on May 14.
The awards acknowledge the efforts of those committed to the promotion and progress of sign language and deaf culture in New Zealand.
St Theresa’s deputy principal and new entrant teacher Deborah Norris said the school was not expecting the award.
‘‘We were shocked because we’ve only been doing it one term,’’ she said.
‘‘Some schools have been doing it for years.’’
The pupils had been really enthusiastic about learning the language, she said.
Her class of 5-year-olds spent all day signing, and have presented a school assembly entirely in sign.
The school hosts a sign language club during Monday lunchtime which up to 40 children attend, she said.
‘‘The kids are giving up their lunchtimes for it. It’s voluntary, they don’t have to – but there’s a good number who are really committed and come every week.
‘‘The goal is that when he [the deaf pupil] leaves school, the kids who have grown up with him will be completely bilingual.’’
Pupil Patrick Reiher, 5, said he enjoyed using sign language.
‘‘It’s cool because you can talk through windows. If someone is far away you can still talk to them,’’ he said.
Teacher aide Vinny Thompson said more and more people were realising the importance of learning sign language.
She believed sign language would become an NCEAapproved subject, so the pupils could continue to learn throughout their education.
‘‘There are people who need it – they have to use it. It’s not a choice for them,’’ Thompson said.
‘‘If someone in your family is deaf then you have to know sign to communicate with them.’’
The St Theresa’s new entrant class is proud to have won a New Zealand sign language in schools award.