Portland students learn American Sign Language

Thanks to Portland Public Schools for sharing this article, written by Shoshana Hoose, with the Maine DOE for publication.

Lyman Moore Middle School is the first middle school in Maine to offer American Sign Language classes. The classes began last month as a way to deepen connections between the six students from Governor Baxter School for the Deaf who attend Moore and the rest of the student body.

Moore offers two ASL classes for seventh graders and one each for sixth and eighth graders. The classes are taught by Lenore Borener, who also teaches ASL at the University of Southern Maine and at the University of Maine at Augusta/Rockland.

“The students from Governor Baxter School have added to the rich diversity at Lyman Moore,” said Principal Stephen Rogers. “The ASL classes are helping to build bridges between our deaf students and our hearing students.”

Rogers noted that ASL is recognized by colleges and universities as a world language. “Our students now have the opportunity to choose between three world languages–ASL, French and Spanish,” he said.

Tracey Dulac serves as the liaison between the Portland Public Schools and the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf. “When our students from Governor Baxter School first arrived at Lyman Moore, they were apprehensive regarding how to communicate with their hearing peers,” she said. “Students and staff at Lyman Moore have embraced the language of ASL and our students. Lyman Moore students are signing in the halls and joining our kids during lunch. It is beautiful to see the two cultures connect in our own neighborhood.”

Students from the Governor Baxter School began attending Moore a year ago.  Governor Baxter School sends its high school students to Portland High, which has been offering ASL for several years.

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