We have four teachers, all of whom are certified in the ASLA curriculum and teaching method. A volunteer serves as our office manager. We have volunteers who help with our lending library and other projects and events. We are very proud of the collaborative effort, enthusiasm and support from our teachers and students.
As the founder of ASLA and the curriculum designer, the journey here was an unexpected one. I began learning ASL in 1984 when my wife Linda and I accepted a deaf foster son who was 13 years old at the time. He was with us for one year, but he is forever our son. He taught us how to be parents, taught us about patience and dignity and love. We are still learning from him.
I took one class in 1984 and it was disappointing. I spent as much time as possible with our son and deaf adults, learning as much as I could. In 1989, I registered for another class and it was not much better than the first. Later that year, I took a class again. After that, I stopped going to formal classes. I did attend numerous workshops and bought a substantial library of videotapes and books to learn everything I could. Part of my program of study included an examination of brain function – how individuals learn and store information, second language acquisition, an analysis of language teaching curricula and theories of second language teaching.
I continued my association with members of the Deaf community. Eventually, I became a part-time interpreter (1992), and then full-time (1994). In that year, I also started teaching. First, I taught adult education classes, then elementary age students, and then college.
Today, I still teach at all those levels, but have expanded so that I now teach pre-school, elementary age, middle and high school age, adult ed, community college and universities. I am also a curriculum designer for all of these age groups and for all levels, beginner to fluency. I conduct workshops for teachers of ASL. In an average week, I teach 17 – 20 classes.
Our three other teachers: two are Deaf, native ASL users, and the other is hearing and has been through our program as a student from level one. The four of us clearly have different personalities and experiences. This is enriching to the program and students benefit from the varied styles and consistent curriculum.