Ms. Wahnschaffe Brings ASL and Her Love of Teaching to Walnut Grove

With fun lessons and engaging activities, Ms. Wahnschaffe shares her passion with ASL students
Teaching a new sign to a student, Ms. Wahnschaffe demonstrates with her hands and explains it to them. ASL one was taking a practice test in preparation for a real one in the future.
Teaching a new sign to a student, Ms. Wahnschaffe demonstrates with her hands and explains it to them. ASL one was taking a practice test in preparation for a real one in the future.
June Horton

A new student enters Room 2224 for their first American Sign Language (ASL) lesson. The nervousness of learning a new language seeps through the entire classroom, but instead of a stern teacher making it a chore, the ASL teacher, Ms. Wahnschaffe, smiles and greets her students personally. 

With engaging finger-signing spelling sheets and student-led warm-ups, Ms.Wahnschaffe creates a vibrant classroom environment for all her students to enjoy learning a new language.

“My goal as a teacher, first and foremost, is to connect with students. I think you guys are so awesome,” Ms. Wahnschaffe said. “I get to hang out with 150 best friends because we have such a good time together.”

After the birth of her deaf son, Wahnschaffe learned ASL so that she could teach him. Now, she is passionate about teaching ASL so that everyone can communicate with the deaf community in America, approximately 10.7 million people. 

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“The second goal is to have every student that leaves this classroom leave with enough ASL to be able to have a conversation with a deaf person,” said Wahnschaffe.

 Wahnschaffe is determined to share the benefits of learning ASL with everyone, just as she and her family have.

“I would say ASL totally changed the course of my life. Our entire family knows sign language, and that’s part of our everyday life, so to say that American sign language has impacted our life is a bit of an understatement,” said Wahnschaffe.

Through interactive classes, students are immersed in the impacts of learning such a meaningful language.

“The opportunity to interact with the deaf community and have open communication with the deaf community is magic,” Ms. Wahnschaffe said. “Unlike other languages, they live right here with us, so to bridge that gap between the two, the hearing and the deaf, it’s pretty magical to be a part of.”

Wahnschaffe isn’t the only one who loves ASL. Most of her students plan on taking ASL for the rest of high school. Megan Renshaw, a freshman taking ASL, hopes to apply it to the rest of her life, including what may be a future career.

“I am going to take ASL for the full four years because I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, so I may become an ASL interpreter,” Renshaw said.

ASL, contrary to other languages, is all done with hands, which Renshaw believes makes it easier to learn and more engaging.

“I tried learning Spanish, and it didn’t work really well, so I thought this would work better because I’m a visual learner,” Renshaw said.

ASL three, the third year of ASL, also enjoys learning and applying American Sign Language. In the last varsity football home game, ASL three performed the national anthem completely in Sign Language.

“We had done that at Rock Hill, too, but that group of students was not in ASL three yet. So we took this opportunity to do it on the turf at the children’s health stadium. It was awesome,” Wahnschaffe said.

Now, Wahnschaffe hopes to encourage other Walnut Grove High School students to try American Sign Language.

“If you’re interested and motivated to learn ASL, you’re going to have so much fun doing it, and you’re going to forget it was hard,” Wahnschaffe said. “So just give it a try!”

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About the Contributor
June Horton
June Horton, Photojounralist
June Horton is a freshman at Walnut Grove High School. During school hours, she practices water polo and works on Wildcats Wired. Outside of school, she plays lacrosse, reads, and watches movies. When she's not doing an outrageous amount of homework, you can find her at the school Sonic, blue rasberry slushy in hand. This is her first year on a newspaper team.
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