Davie Co. teacher introduces students to sign language

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Levi Boger signs the letters of the alphabet in an ASL class at Davie High School. (David Rolfe/Journal)

MOCKSVILLE, N.C. — Teri Morgan stops by the Media Center at Davie County High School with a visitor when the daily announcements are read over the PA system.

Then comes the Pledge of Allegiance. Morgan doesn’t recite it aloud. The teacher’s fingers and arms begin to move quickly, not frantically, but purposefully.

She is “signing” the pledge using American Sign Language.

Morgan then walks to her classroom, where she teaches ASL I and ASL II to students under a unique arrangement.

Davie High is one of a handful of high schools in the state where American Sign Language can be taken to satisfy a foreign language requirement toward earning a diploma. The class can also be used as an elective.

Morgan said a few high schools in the Cary and Charlotte areas are the only other places ASL is taught as a foreign language. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools does not offer any ASL classes, according to Theo Helm, a school spokesman.

ASL is an approved language by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. More than 150 U.S. universities accept ASL, including the UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington and Gardner-Webb.

American Sign Language is a complete, complex language that uses signs made by moving the hands combined with facial expressions and body postures. It is the primary language of many North Americans who are deaf and is one of several communication options used by people who are deaf.

The exact beginnings of ASL are not clear, but some suggest that it began more than 200 years ago from the intermixing of local sign languages and French Sign Language (LSF, or Langue des Signes Française).

Morgan, who lives in Advance, has been teaching ASL at Davie for 10 years. She teaches one ASL I class and two sections of ASL II.

Morgan said in the fall, the ASL I class usually has 25 to 32 students. ASL II classes average about 20 students in the fall and spring. Second semester ASL I classes are smaller, with about 13 students.

When she’s not teaching she is working part time at Haj Paj, a gift and clothing boutique in Farmington, or teaching Zumba exercise classes at the Jerry Long Family YMCA in Clemmons.

Read full story: The Winston-Salem Journal

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