Due to maternity leave, Leah Clark, the American sign language teacher was out for three months and the school had to hire a substitute teacher for her class. Little did Clark know, her students would create problems for the substitute. Maria Lado, the substitute, is a deaf women who can read lips very well, being able to understand what the students say. Clark loved the fact that the substitute was deaf, and thought it would help the students immensely.
During Lado’s three-month term as the American sign language class’ teacher, it was hard for her to teach and connect with the students. Students tried their best to understand her and learn from her experiences with her disability, while others didn’t. Multiple students loved being able to learn from someone who has personal experiences with being deaf. “Being taught by a deaf sign language teacher really helped excel my learning. It was really cool to experience,” junior Seamus Barrett said.
Not being able to communicate other than sign language with the teacher was difficult for students, especially when they needed to ask specific questions. Not all students in the class took advantage of her. The students in her class even felt it was encouraging and showed leadership and confidence being able to teach a class while being deaf. “I felt it was awesome to be able to learn from someone from the deaf community and how she had the courage to get up in front of the class and teach while being deaf,” sophomore Niko Jones said.
Lado tried her best to deal with the students, but eventually the situation got out of hand. While Lado was a substitute for the sign language class, students acted disrespectfully and got out of control. During her stay students took advantage of her not being able to hear. Some students even used nasty remarks, not knowing that the teacher understood what they were saying. “I personally think that the substitute tried her best to accommodate to our needs being hearing but students weren’t willing to return to favor and accommodate to her needs of being deaf,” sophomore Amy Weintraub said.
At the end of her three-month substitution period before Clark was ready to return from her pregnancy, Lado opened up to the sign language class and spoke about how she felt with some students trying to take advantage of her. She told them that she understood everything they had been saying about her and felt it was disrespectful.
She told them how hard it is to be deaf in today’s society and that people can’t actually understand unless they are deaf. The class apologized to Lado, and later took part in an activity called Deaf for a Day to raise awareness of these issues in society today.