Montclair Elementary School Sign Language

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Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)

Montclair Elementary School Third-Grade Teacher Maria Strnishna added daily American Sign Language (ASL) lessons to her classroom curriculum. Strnisha created a weekly video series she calls “Sign Language Sundays” to continue teaching ASL during the school closure.

She was inspired by the thoughtful acts of her sister, who met a fellow student at school who is deaf. After noticing that many students did not interact with him because of the disability, she took it upon herself to learn some ASL, so she could communicate with him. Strnisha shared this personal story with her students.

“They loved to learn a new word each day, so why not continue encouraging that enthusiasm? Now is the perfect chance to take a little bit of time to improve a new skill,” Strnisha said.

While earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in dance, Strnisha gained experience in editing videos for performance reviews. The video-editing skills have come in handy as she has adapted the ASL classes for a virtual learning delivery. Strnisha explained that sign language relies on visual cues, so teaching the lessons through video is very doable. Her enthusiastic students often send emails asking if they have made a sign correctly.

Strnisha said, “It’s definitely the coolest thing ever because it shows me that they’re learning, which is really just the ultimate goal of this entire process.” She hopes that these lessons help her students gain a new skill and build their confidence in being able to communicate in multiple ways.

She wants her students to know that if someone communicates differently, it does not make them different.


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