GIRARD, Ohio (WYTV) – The school year is winding down, and one particular teacher at Girard High School is wrapping up her first year of teaching… without speaking to her students all year.
American Sign Language (ASL) Teacher Lauren Albaugh and her students have been hard at work.
Albaugh was born with her hearing, but became deaf around the age of two.
“They [Albaugh’s parents] realized I stopped responding and my grandpa, he was sitting there, said, ‘I think she’s deaf, I think you need to see a doctor,'” Albaugh said.
Her parents asked an ASL teacher in Champion to teach the whole family.
Years later, Albaugh is now teaching the first ever ASL class at Girard High School, seeing almost 120 students every day, both hearing and hard-of-hearing.
“She’s one of the best teachers. She’s actually my favorite,” said freshman Hannah Jones.
“There’s the occasional mess up but she always corrects us and helps up,” said junior LJ Whitmore.
Throughout the year they will learn about the deaf community, the vocabulary and take signed tests.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more, she is so good,” said sophomore Grace Swertfager.
“She is a good teacher. She helps me out,” signed junior Cari Heckathorm.
The National Health Survey found about two in every 1,000 people in the U.S. are considered deaf.
Many of the students know someone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing, which adds to their passion for the class.
“My friends, they have deaf parents. And so growing up, hanging out with them and going over their house and seeing how they would communicate with their parents was very interesting to me and I wanted to be like that,” said junior Maliah Dean.
“I see their eagerness and their enjoyment for learning ASL, and it creates a relationship and a connection between me and the students. I feel that the deaf community really wants everyone to know that deaf can do anything, except hear,” Albaugh said.
Albaugh said the deaf community in the Mahoning Valley is small, but she hopes this class will encourage both deaf and hearing students to get more involved.
She also hopes to start an ASL club for students next year.
Note: For the purposes of the interview, Dawn Brazofsky interpreted for Lauren Albaugh.
Also, closed captioning is available for all videos on WYTV.com.