‘Angels’ recognized at high school for outstanding efforts
It may sounds like a room of silence in Mr. Kitterman’s American Sign Language class at MacArthur High School, but it’s filled with all kinds of conversation.
The only sounds you hear are a select few of student ‘angels’ interpreting.
Seventeen-year-old Destiny Cardenas is one of five students recently recognized as an ‘ASL Angel’ on campus.
They come in on their own time to translate and help struggling students.
“A lot of us take our lunch period to help Mr. Kitterman out. that group of students are the ASL Angels,” the high school senior said.
Tim Kitterman has been teaching the class for about 10 years.
“I realized this year I had three seniors who had done this for three years who had been helping students continuously during their lunches and during their other classes. I have a regular class aid and I realized they need to get recognized for what they are doing. It’s really a great service to the students, to me, to the program, to the school; it’s a fantastic thing they are doing,” he said.
Destiny has a group of students she helps during her lunch hour.
“I fell in love with the language and teaching it and helping other people and it’s help me grow a lot as a person so I stuck with it,” she said.
15-year-old Alijah Moreno is one of the students being helped by Destiny.
“I used to have a deaf friend when i was really young and i couldn’t understand a thing he was saying because he would sign to me. years later, i couldn’t believe there was a sign language class in high school so I said I’m not taking Spanish, I’m going to take this,” Moreno said.
Kitterman said the angels have had a huge impact on his beginner students by encouraging them to continue learning no matter how challenging.
“Learning is a process of making mistakes; you have to make mistakes to learn a language,” he added.
MacArthur Senior Amber Mohn is one of the ASL Angels. She said she loves the culture and it has helped her at work.
She likes to give back to the students by helping them during her lunch hour.
“They just need to all sign and it just helps them engage more because they get off their phones, they have to actually pay attention to understand what they are saying,” Mohn said.
This is the only Dual Credit American Sign Language program in the District and Mr. Kitterman sets high expectations for his students.
Many first level sign language students have never even heard him speak.
MacArthur Junior Genevieve Snider is another ASL Angel. She recalls the first time she heard him speak in her first year.
“The first time we heard him talk, someone was talking about oh Mr. Kitterman can’t sing and he just came out and just sang. I don’t even remember the song, and all of us were just like ‘what!’ I’ve heard him talk before but only slightly, that was hilarious and the reaction was hilarious,” Snider
With nearly a decade of experience teaching ALS at MacArthur, Mr. Kitterman said the trick to learning how to sign is to get involved.
“Go meet deaf people, just stop talking and sign everything, force yourself. Do it the hard way; that’s the trick,” Kitterman said.
He is inspiring life-long learning in the process.
“When you talk to some of these kids- like the angels and other students- when I see them, they already know they want to go in sign language in some related field; interpreting, counseling, teaching. To see them know already they want to do something in sign language, that to me is really rewarding,” he said.
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