Forget French and Spanish, one school signs for a second language

BETTENDORF, IOWA – Walk into any school and you are surrounded by noise - whether it's inside the classroom, during lectures or in the hallways while students are on the move.

But in one Pleasant Valley High School classroom, it's all about silence.

It's here where they are using their eyes to listen.

"After the first month we turn off our voices and only use our hands," said one of the sign language learners.

Pleasant Valley High School is offering American Sign Language, or ASL, as a second language alternative.

It's the only one of its kind in the Quad Cities.

Students say they are fascinated with ASL, with most having never seen it before or had any knowledge of deaf culture.

The class counts as an Alternative Language credit and gives students more options.

"I had to do my two years of French and I was so excited to get out of there it was not my favorite class," said one student.

Sign language was first offered last year and now the number of classes offered has doubled from two to four.

 

Right now Evan Terronez and Laural Ann McLeod-Croel are the only two people who teach ASL in the area and they want to see that change.

"The problem is we just don't have enough teachers," said Terronez. "The two of us, we can't teach 5 or 6 different schools as much as we would like to it's just not possible."

They see the benefits of learning the language every day: whether it's to better communicate with those who are deaf or landing a job after high school.

The starting salary for an interpreter is $60 an hour.

As for the students...

"I came to this class and I thought this could be my career!" said one.

 

"It changed my life and I really want it to change other people's lives," said another.

With no signs of stopping.

Clinton, North Scott, and the Davenport school districts are also looking to someday add ASL to their schools.  They first need to find qualified people to teach the course.