Saturday, December 11, 2010

California's Shasta College students want their ASL instructor reinstated

From KHSL-TV in N. Calif.:

Some Shasta College students are trying to get their teacher reinstated. Jae Brown (pictured) was told on Tuesday that one of her students made a complaint about her, over a gesture and that her contract is not being renewed.

Brown is an American Sign Language teacher. She is also deaf. According to brown and other students, this is all just one big misunderstanding because of cultural differences.

“We can't lose her. She's valuable here,” said student Faelynn Koen, while tears streamed down her face. “She's the best teacher I've ever had.”

Brown was told one of her students complained that some of the signs she made were offensive. Brown believes it was a cultural misunderstanding.

“{Deaf people} identify people based on body parts; What's most noticeable. Describing certain body parts can be interpreted in a dirty way,” said Brown.

School officials will only say that brown's contract isn't being renewed. “I really can't discuss anything because it is a personnel issue,” explained Morris Rodrigue, the Dean of Science, Language Arts and Mathematics.

Brown is passionate about teaching and it's obvious her students are very passionate about her. They started a petition and met with school officials after they found out she was being let go.

“I think there is nothing better than learning sign language from people who are deaf, it's like learning Spanish from people who grew with Spanish,” said Koen.

Brown wasn't always deaf. She lost her hearing as a child. Former student, Roxanne Reyes, says this gives the teacher a unique perspective and makes her an invaluable asset.

“She's had interaction as a hearing person and now, as a deaf person. So, as far as being able to communicate with hearing people and teach them in a way they would best understand, I think she is the ideal teacher,” said Reyes.

Several of her students say they're now considering becoming ASL interpreters because of brown.

“Jae is honestly the best teacher for sign that I've ever had in my life and I love her, a lot and I don't know what I'm going to do if I can't have her as my teacher,” said student Sean Hender.

The dean of science, language arts and mathematics says he will bring the student petition and comments to the school's president.