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VMHS American Sign Language teacher aims to build bridges between hearing, deaf communities

Posted: 1:57 PM, Oct 30, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-02 08:13:11-04

Veterans Memorial High School welcomed its first American Sign Language teacher at the beginning of the school year.

Now. Sean Hill is using the class as an opportunity to educate others about deaf culture.

Hill, who is Veterans’ newest teacher, isn’t your average teacher. Hill is deaf, but that doesn’t stop him from doing what he loves, which is teaching.

“I use my hands to teach my students,” Hill said. “The students are fascinated. Ya know, I can’t hear the door opening and closing. If you want to get my attention, wave or tap me on the shoulder.”

Hill is a former teacher at Tuloso-Midway ISD, but he has since found his new home at Veterans Memorial High School.

“He has a personality, and he’s fun. Like he just keeps everyone happy,” one student of Hill’s said.

Hill teaches American Sign Language to about 130 Veterans Memorial High School students. It’s the first year the school is offering a sign language program.

“I’m really glad that they brought this class to Vets, because it’s something different,” Savannah West, a student of Hill’s, said.

Rolando Gonzalez, the assistant principal at Veterans Memorial High School, said there was a growing need for ASL classes in the school. That’s when they decided to make Hill a member of Vets’ team.

“Certainly every class that he has is full,” Gonzalez said. “And we have a waiting list of a lot of students who are really interested in signing up for ASL.”

Currently, 15 Veterans Memorial High School students are deaf or hard of hearing. Some of them are taking Hill’s class.

“We want to build those bridges between the hearing and deaf community,” Hill said. “We just need those advocates for the deaf community, always.”

Hill is also making it his mission to educate his students about the deaf culture.

“Part of me feels like the deaf community is like left out of some things, so if the hearing community and the deaf community can be linked together,” West said. “It would just make them feel more included.”

In addition to teaching, Hill is also a wrestling coach at Veterans Memorial High School.