On a perfectly calm night, you can toss a stone into Christie Lake and watch the ripples build up. One ripple causes the next ripple, which sets the motion for yet another one...
Tonight will mark my final "Conversational Sign Language" class at Joliet Junior College. I have been teaching at JJC since the early 90's and now I'm passing the baton on to Chris Laskowski, a physical education teacher who is deaf.
I've had my share of memorable students over the years. The youngest student was three years old and the oldest was 82. One student had suffered a stroke and was learning to communicate again. Several couples have taken the class to communicate with each other after losing their hearing. I have had classes as large as sixty students and some as small as six. I've had two students who have taken my class two times in a row and they've gone on to take the next level class two times as well.
Families with deaf and hard of hearing children frequently take my class and often bring the grandparents and sometimes the kids. One mom of a deaf child went on to become an interpreter. She once interpreted for me at a meeting at a local intervention agency. This mom also teaches sign classes at her local park district. Another student went on to graduate from Columbia College and now works as a full-time freelance interpreter. I recently had the honor of having her interpret for me during a meeting downtown.
I've also ran into former students in many different places. Several times I have gone into restaurants and discovered that the server has taken a class. I've found students at the post office, conferences and bookstores. It is difficult to remember all of the students after years of teaching but it's always special to come across them years down the road.
Back in the early 90's, I hosted a "Silent Day" in my hometown at a local church. I had forgotten all about that day until I received a phone call from Shirley Armstrong, one of the ladies who attended that event. She invited me to a breakfast as a thank you for the teaching I had done in my community years ago.
On Saturday, I had the honor and pleasure of having breakfast with a group of women from the Jubilee Baptist Church. Shirley in the picture on the far left) introduced me to the ladies from the church who continued to study American Sign Language year after year.
It's amazing how a ripple in the pond can continue many years later.