Plainville High School offers sign language course

Instructor Rachel Posner and students in the American Sign Language class at Plainville High School. (Submitted)

American Sign Language is now an available elective course offered at Plainville High School. Rachel Posner, a Plainville resident, has 16 students enrolled in the course thus far.

The course has been offered in the past to students with disabilities as part of their Independent educational plans, but this is the first time it has been opened to the general high school population.

Posner and her family were part of a documentary produced last year by A & E highlighting the lives of three deaf families in the United States. In addition to being an instructor at Plainville High School, she also works for the Wethersfield school system, exclusively with deaf students. She also teaches at Naugatuck Community College and owns her own business where she assists the deaf community in a variety of capacities. In addition, she works with the Connecticut Domestic Violence Association to support the deaf population in that capacity. She has a background in Social Work, and taught at the American School for the Deaf for 15 years.

“They always say, love the work you do and you’ll never work a day in your life, so true,” Posner said in a press release. “I am very proud to be part of this community; it’s a professional and personal investment as I’ve been looking for ways to give back.”

During the course, students participate in team competitions and practice conversations using sign language. Classes include vocabulary review and sentence development practice.

Mackenzie Pye, a PHS senior, said in a press release that her interest in the course stemmed from a part time job she holds at a local grocery store, where a deaf customer would try to communicate with her.

“I couldn’t communicate with him, and it was frustrating to me, so when I saw that this class was being offered, I thought it was a great opportunity,” said Pye.  “It’s been awesome and Mrs. Posner makes sure we learn a lot but also have a lot of fun.”

Posner will also work with a group of hearing impaired students and their peers at Louis Toffolon Elementary School this year through the school’s first “Happy Hands Club.”  PHS students Nate Berube and Sam Cretella, who are currently enrolled in the ASL course, will serve as volunteers supporting Posner and the elementary level program, along with other students who are interested in participating as the year goes on.

According to Pérez, students who successfully complete the course receive a language credit and are also eligible to earn the Seal of Bi-literacy upon graduation. Pérez also said that both American Sign Language 1 & 2 courses will be offered next year.