Plim­mer­ton school on jour­ney with stu­dent

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - CHELSEA MCLAUGHLIN

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.

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