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Innovative Educator: Nampa High teacher starts sign language club

In Samantha Showers' classroom at Nampa High, everyone is talking at once.It's still quieter than the library.

NAMPA — There's a classroom at Nampa High School where everyone converses at once, but it's still quieter than the library. It is the American Sign Language Club. The students often practice signing in groups or as a whole class with the teacher.

"One of our core values here at Nampa High is community," teacher Samantha Showers said. "I believe that the students think how can we be a really strong community if we can't talk to our whole community."

Showers started the club late last school year at the urging of junior Jasmine Ondesko.

"It's hard for them to communicate with the outside world because of how few people acknowledge that sign language is a language," Ondesko said.

"Part of being a teacher leader here at the school is to build other students up so they can be student leaders themselves," Showers said. "So, I thought that was really awesome of her to take that initiative."

The club now quietly boasts 30 members.

"I just think it's so cool how people are actually interested. At first, I was like so scared that like nobody would be," Ondesko said.

One of those 30 members is senior Christian Rackham. He believes he'll use sign language throughout his life.

"Yeah, I want to be a cop or something federal," Rackham said. "And I feel like with how many people that I would interact with and stuff there's bound to be a few people that are part of the deaf community."

So far, the students are learning the alphabet, colors, common phrases and the Pledge of Allegiance.

"We really try to make it about teaching students that all forms of communication are valid and equal in the community," Showers said.

Ms. Showers is an English teacher in her second year of teaching. She oversees the ASL Club on top of that.

She used a $700 grant from CapEd Credit Union to buy flash cards, sign language textbooks and books on deaf culture to supplement the practical sign language lessons they do during class time.

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