COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Downtown Columbus High School Assistant Principal Daphne Derden heard that some of her students who are deaf and hard of hearing felt isolated, she knew she had to do something to help.
So she spearheaded a new ASL (American Sign Language) club at the school.
“(The students) really led that charge, and I was so proud of them, so proud of them,” she said. ”So when you talk about this ASL Club, this is not a Ms. Derden thing, this is an all-hands-on-deck thing.”
So far, five students are learning ASL and sharing their skills with some of their fellow classmates.
Junior Jaliya Harley, for one, is appreciative.
“I think she is a hero and she really pushed us to be in this club, and I think she did good with being involved with the deaf community, and she learned a lot as well, too,” she said.
The students got to take a trip to the Ohio School for the Deaf to kick off their new club. They meet during their lunch period.
“It’s a way for them to connect and a way for them to not feel as if no one understands who they are, and they each have their unique personalities, which I was so happy to get to know them, and I wanted their classmates to experience that as well, and I think this opportunity gave them an avenue to do that,” Derden said.
Her support of the new club did not go unnoticed. Her sweetheart Carl Mason nominated her to be a Classroom Hero.
“This was a rare time when I saw someone doing something, and their purpose and intent was to really evolve and develop and help the children that the program was meant to benefit,” Mason said. “She really is about the children and how they were feeling better, how they were really excited by doing this and how their communication and their involvement in the school with other children were increasing. She saw that.”
The plan now is to expand the club in the future, adding more members and activities. Meanwhile, her students are happy to give a shout-out to the person who started it all.
“I think that she was amazing to do that,” junior Makiya Sykes said. “I’ve never seen anybody that would try to do that, so thank you.”
Each week, a Classroom Hero will be spotlighted on Wake Up CBUS. You can nominate teachers, coaches or any staff member who is making an impact.
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