Students learn ASL from new Deaf teacher


Dario Rangel

Danita De La Cruz leads a lesson on how to use American Sign Language to describe items seen during the winter holidays.

Having an ASL class in high school is rare. Only a few high schools offer it to students as an elective. What’s even rarer is having the class taught by a fully deaf ASL teacher.

Junior Leah Duran, one of Danita De La Cruz’s students, said it can be challenging to learn ASL’s sentence structure.

“However, the teacher understands the difficulties when it comes to communicating and she tries to make it easier to understand. She also makes the activities fun,” she said.

Duran said she thinks it is important for high school students to learn ASL because it helps them understand the difficulties people go through.

“It’s important to learn a new language and it’s fun,” she said.

Last year at Akins, they had a deaf teacher but had hearing aids and could speak. Unfortunately, She had to leave. But, now there is a new ASL teacher. Let’s get to know her more

EE: How many years have you been teaching?

This is my first year teaching.

EE: What are the challenges you face when teaching?

The challenge I face is trying to get the students to participate in class. Understanding the different learning challenges amongst students. Are they actually learning ASL or learning from me? My major goal is for them to learn ASL daily and improve their ASL skills.

EE: Do you sign any other sign languages?

Yes, I know some LSM (Mexican Sign Language).

EE: Why Akins?

I believe I will impact students to strive to learn ASL. I want a new environment and hope for the better.

EE: How are the Staff/Students treating you?

The staff has been treating me pretty amazingly, and it may be new to them to have a deaf teacher. I think students treat me well and are always happy to see me, which is nice.

EE: Do you feel well respected?

Yes, I feel well-respected.

EE: Do you like it here?

Yes, I like it here.

EE: What other schools were you teaching at?

I was a long-term substitute teacher at Del Valle High School.

EE: Why did you want to become a teacher?

I wanted to become a teacher because I love teaching and the ability to make a real difference in the lives of kids. Furthermore, I believe that I have the potential to make a longer impression. I can be a positive influence in their lives, and I can inspire and help students build self-esteem and believe in themselves.

EE: What is your main goal for these kids?

To have a sense of satisfaction with their individualism and feelings of self-respect. Be well-rounded and have a good, relaxing, loving, and happy time in a growing and helping environment. I want students to be able to overcome obstacles and strive for excellence. I want to see students be able to improve their ASL (American Sign Language) skills. Frankly, I love seeing students learning ASL and trying to communicate with me.