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ASL teachers collaborate to sign


A collision of two worlds is made possible by Kathy Goodson and Stephanie Durand, who co-teach American Sign Language by splitting the pay rate.

Durand and Goodson offer Pierce their knowledge of sign language and break new ground by co-teaching.

Students enrolled in ASL 5 experience both the hearing and deaf aspect of this visual language.

“We really applaud the modern language department, they have given us this amazing opportunity,” adjunct instructor Stephanie Durand said.

Durand, who was born deaf, has a different perspective on the world according to Goodson.

“I’m a hearing woman and so I get to learn about the culture from a direct member.,” adjunct instructor Goodson said.

This is the first semester at Pierce that the duo has taught together.

“We have 40 students who are highly motivated, and they motivate me,” Durand said.

Their co-ed work ethic does not go unnoticed on campus.

“They are very innovative and student-centered,” Dean of the Modern Language Department, Barbara Anderson said. “This is the first interpreting training class for sign language where a hearing and deaf professor have knowledge from interpreting.”

Money was never the motive for the co-teachers, There was a mutual decision to split the pay between the interpreters to allow the class to operate.

“It’s a three-unit class, so we’re being paid 1.5 units,” Goodson said. “We are more interested in the students’ benefit than our pocketbook with this course.”

Goodson and Durand have an individual outlook to offer in their expertise of interpreting that keeps the students engaged. Both instructors are very supportive of each other’s viewpoints of American Sign Language.

Educating students on what a deaf person encounters in the hearing world is not the easiest task.

“So instead we have a deaf person who gets to represent what we are trying to teach them,” Goodson said.

Their passion to share this knowledge gives an advantage to the American Sign Language program at Pierce.

“To be an interpreter you need an understanding of the hearing and deaf world, so as a co-teaming experience, the students benefit greatly,” Goodson said.

“My favorite part about teaching are the students when the light bulb goes off and they’ve learned,” Durand said. “I love seeing people wanting to be apart of my community. It’s really uplifting.”

Both professors encourage that everyone in this world should attempt to grasp the skill of sign language. The younger someone learns a method of communication, the quicker the knowledge is resonated.

“For hearing and deaf babies, it’s easier to pick up sign language at that young of an age,” Durand said.

Her niece’s first language was ASL because of how easily visual aids are communicated.

“I am not deaf and I’ve traveled to other countries and countries I didn’t know the language,” Goodson said. “I’ve been frustrated , but knowing ASL and seeing deaf people in these foreign lands, I am actually able to communicate with them because there’s a benefit of knowing a visual language.”

The relationship between Goodson and Durand is full of support and knowledge.

“Stephanie’s energy is infectious and she’s also like the energizer bunny – she never ends, she never stops,” Goodson said.

“Coffee. It’s the coffee that helps,” Durand said. “Kathy knows her stuff, and she knows interpreting, she’s got the heart and soul.”

This teaching experience created a whole new aspect of learning..

“I would like to see more co-teaching classes on campus as well as cross-disciplinary,” Goodson said.

“That would be really wonderful to have a public speaker come in and talk to students about combatting the nerves that come up with interpreting, and I just think it would be an amazing opportunity for interdisciplinary teaching on this campus,” Goodson said.