After 37 years of teaching American Sign Language and Interpreting full time at Pierce College, a devoted teacher will retire.
Professor of Languages Darlene Wittman has dedicated her entire teaching career to developing new classes and ways of teaching ASL to students at Pierce and California State University, Northridge over the past 41 years.
At Pierce, Wittman developed the interpreting program, which offers an associate’s degree. She was also the first full-time professor in the Modern Development Department.
Cindy Herbst, Wittman’s longtime friend and colleague, has seen her growth in the Modern Development Department first hand and watched her blossom both in her personal life and in her career.
“There’s honestly nothing that makes her happier,” said Herbst.
Wittman originally received her bachelor’s degree in theatre from CSUN, but she has always had a special connection with the art of teaching, so she decided to combine her love of theatre with her passion of teaching.
Later, she received a specialized certification for performing arts through the registration interpreters for the deaf, which made her one of only 11 people in the United States that has certification.
Wittman has taught at different schools in Los Angeles including CSUN and UCLA, but for her, no other school’s atmosphere or diversity compares to that of Pierce’s. She has remained at the college since the 1970s.
“There’s something about Pierce that I didn’t feel at the other schools I taught at. My students bring me to tears every year during their final projects,” said Wittman. “I just love teaching.”
In addition to the love of her students, she shared that dedication is most important to be able to get through the many years.
Through the 37 years at Pierce, she has attended every graduation for the school and plans to continue the tradition even after retiring.
After her long years she plans to put the settle down and enjoy spending time with her family. She wants to clean, travel, and not have to grade any more papers.
Wittman said she feels honored to be a long time teacher at Pierce, and after over three decades of being at the college, she believes that it is her prime time to focus on the next chapter of her life.