Plimmerton school on journey with student
A Porirua school is being heralded as a great example of inclusive education.
St Theresa’s School in Plimmerton is the focus of a new short documentary by Van Asch Deaf Education Centre, which will be used as a resource to show how to effectively integrate deaf education and culture into schools.
The Making of a NZSL Friendly School follows Andre, who began as a new entrant at the school in 2016, and the journey of his teachers, classmates and wider school community in learning New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) and incorporating it into school curriculum.
NZSL specialist teacher and resource teacher of the deaf for Van Asch, Darryl Alexander, is impressed by how everyone in the school community has embraced the language.
He is ‘‘blown away’’ by the motivation and determination he has seen.
The school’s learning hub hosts sign language classes every Monday lunchtime and holds digital resources for pupils to access whenever they like.
In the documentary, teacher Deborah Norris says roll time and prayers are always done in sign.
Her new entrant class began by learning three new words in sign each week throughout term one, and then progressed into full sentences.
By May 2016, the school had been awarded the New Zealand Sign Language in Schools award at the New Zealand Sign Language Awards.
By the time Andre is year six, his classmates should be fully bilingual.
Alexander says all this effort means Andre is fully immersed in the school environment.
‘‘It’s like this school has made him feel like he’s at home,’’ Alexander says.
Principal Donna McDonald, one of a few teachers who took night classes in NZSL, is proud of how everyone has embraced Andre and NZSL.
‘‘It enriched all of our lives and it continues to,’’ she says.
‘‘Andre is part of who we are and NZSL is part of who we are and what we do here, and we’ll continue to grow it in any way possible.’’
Alexander says the documentary will be a valuable resource that will help many other schools and communities, and it is important that it is shown widely.
On the red carpet: The documentary follows Andre, a deaf pupil at St Theresa’s School in Plimmerton.