LOOMIS, CA - Communication is key for teacher Kerilynne Rugg. She uses American Sign Language to teach hearing impaired students at Del Oro High School in Loomis.
Rugg has used her hands to sign every word she's uttered for 13 years. "It not hard at all. It's a challenging job but they're great. They're great students," Rugg said.
Taking a class in college sparked her interest in her career. "I started college thinking I was going to be a marine biologist," she recalled. "After I took an American Sign Language class, I thought I could be a teacher."
She works with students in groups and one-on-one and quickly adapting to each student's needs. They're all on different levels in reading and math.
"We start where they are," explained Rugg. "Some students might be in here for English class and history class. Some are here for a skills class where they get help with (lessons from) their regular mainstream class."
Rugg constantly pushes her students. She doesn't let their disability stand in the way of learning. "I have to work on their self-esteem as well as their strengths," she admitted.
Her students get to go on a variety of field trips. She took them to see a basketball game between CSU-Northridge and UC-Davis. "California State University Northridge has about 250 deaf students and they have a young man who's deaf on their basketball team," Rugg said. "We also have a deaf student on our team here at Del Oro."
She's also taken her students on tours to different universities. And she's helping nine students raise $4500 for a trip next year to Gallaudet University, a school for the hearing impaired in Washington D.C.
"I push college a lot," Rugg said. "I want them to go on to college or a technical school. I don't want them to think they can't because they're deaf. I always tell them they can do anything they want to."
By Karen Massie firstname.lastname@example.org