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Teacher starts sign language club at Wilson & Young - Odessa American: ECISD

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Teacher starts sign language club at Wilson & Young

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  • Sign Language Club

    This is the first year that Alberto Izaguirre has been teaching sign language to the students of Wilson and Yound Middle School. A dozen students from Wilson and Young Medal of Honor Middle school meet Tuesdays after classes as a part of a club to learn how to speak sign language.

Posted: Monday, September 30, 2019 4:30 am

Having had nearly a lifelong fascination with sign language, Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School English language arts teacher Alberto Izaguirre is hoping to spark that affinity in his students.

Recently, Izaguirre formed a sign language club for students and is offering sign language to parents on Thursday nights.

Originally from Penitas in South Texas, Izaguirre moved to Odessa three years ago.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in social work from the University of Texas Permian Basin and is working on a master’s in counseling.

He is in iteach getting an alternative certification for teaching. He is also certified in English as a second language.

Izaguirre said he started at Ector Middle School, moved to Carver Early Education Center as an aide, worked for the Regional Day School for the Deaf and is now at Wilson & Young.

“I wanted to bring a little piece of that over here,” Izaguirre said of his previous experience.

His wife, Maria, is a speech pathologist assistant with the Regional Day School for the Deaf.

Izaguirre bought the idea of having a sign language club to Wilson & Young Principal Anthony Garcia and Garcia gave the go ahead.

About 12 students come to the meetings regularly, but about 30 are signed up for it.

“I had always loved sign language since I was little; learning the alphabets; learning the different words and stuff like that and I ended up taking that course,” for a language requirement, Izaguirre said.

He credited Rakia Musa, director of the Regional Day School for the Deaf, and others with helping him develop the skills he has today.

He said there has been interest from the community about the free sign language classes for the public. The Regional Day School also offers courses.

“It’s fun having the people actually interested in it because it’s a language that many people want to know, but not many are actually able to so it’s good to bring it and making it accessible,” Izaguirre said.

He added that you never know when you’re going to use it.

Many of the students in the sign language club have friends or relatives who are deaf. They find it surprising that there are so many words in sign language.

Twelve-year-old seventh-grader Talan Ramirez said he is learning Spanish in addition to sign language.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Ramirez said.

“Some words you learn the alphabet; some words you use

Daniel Oyebanji, also 12 and in seventh grade, said he joined the group because he thought it would be fun to learn a different language.

“It’s pretty fun,” Oyebanji said. “We get along pretty easily. We have our laughs. We have fun.”

I used to have a friend when I was in second grade who was deaf. She had hearing aids. Sometimes she had to take them out.

Another 12-year-old seventh-grader, Angelique Guerra Rodriguez, said sign language is kind of hard to learn.

“But if you’re a quick learner, you’ll get it easily,” Rodriguez said.

Eleven-year-old sixth grader Jireh Figueroa Gonzalez said he had been practicing sign language with his friends last year. Then he heard about the club.

“I was very happy … It’s pretty cool. The teacher is fun and he teachers you a lot of things; things that you need to know for the future if you encounter any (people who are deaf or hard of hearing),” Gonzalez said.

Maria Izaguirre said in an email that she graduated from the University of Texas Pan American with a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders.

“I was a tutor for the sign language class, and secretary and vice president for the American Sign Language club in the university. I worked at the Regional School for the Deaf (RSD) in McAllen ISD as an interpreter for the high school students. Currently, I work for the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) in Ector County ISD as a speech pathologist assistant where I service students pre-k to high school. Also, I work part time at West Texas Speech & Orofacial Myology clinic where I service bilingual patients who speak Spanish, English, and Sign Language. September is deaf awareness month and I would like everyone to know that being deaf does not make you dumb, just as being hearing does not make you smart,” she said.

Odessa, TX

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