Deaf Cafeteria Worker Is Stunned After Students Learn Sign Language For Her

Lex Gabrielle
sign language hands
Unsplash | Jo Hilton

There are many people who work in schools that change a child's life without really realizing or noticing it. School workers can leave a lasting impact on children, whether they are a teacher or just someone who says hi to them in the hallways. Kids always look back and remember those special people who make a difference in their lives.

Sometimes, the smallest thing can make the biggest change in a student's life.

school lunch worker
Unsplash | Obi - @pixel6propix

Knowing that someone is working in your child's school, day in and day out, to help them is a meaningful thing. Those who work in schools are those who truly care.

In one Virginia school, the school food service worker started a movement amongst the students.

school lunch worker serving students
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Leisa Duckwall is a food service worker at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School in Suffolk, Virginia. Leisa also happens to be deaf, which has made it hard for her to communicate with the students.

However, the students so desperately wanted to communicate with her.

students in lunch line learning sign language
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Kari Maskelony noticed that for the four years that Leisa has been working at the school, serving breakfast, lunch, and snacks to the students, she has not been able to really communicate with any of them.

Kari decided to change that by helping the students learn sign language in order to communicate with Leisa better.

teacher teaching kids sign language in classroom
Facebook | Facbeook

Kari has many friends who are hard of hearing and part of the deaf community, so she is someone who has a good background in sign language—even using sign language in her own home.

The ordering process for students had been hard during lunch service.

Students ordering lunch in lunch line
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“I noticed that all the kids realized that Ms. Duckwall couldn’t hear them. But they were all pointing to what they wanted, and then, she would have to point and have them say yes or no,” Kari said.

Kari said one day she had a conversation in sign language with Leisa, and all of the kids watched with intrigue.

sign language movement
Unsplash | Nic Rosenau

Kari decided to see if the students would be interested in learning some basic sign language skills in order to effectively communicate their wishes and needs more at lunch.

It started off with basic letters.

students learning sign language in classroom
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For some food items, the children learned things such as "chicken" and "fish." She also showed them letters for side dishes that they have often in school, such as C for carrots and R for rice.

However, many students wanted to go further with their sign language learning.

students using sign language in lunch line
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After teaching her fourth graders, many other students in the school became interested in learning how to sign and many other words and phrases in sign language from Kari.

Around the world, there are 70 million members of the deaf community.

deaf man touching ear
Unsplash | Mark Paton

Not all members of the deaf community are born deaf. There are those who are born deaf, but also those who are brought up in homes with hearing impairments and taught sign language from their families.

Kari realized how much this move would help the students.

sign language gif

“Not only is it great for the kids because they can learn a new skill that they can carry with them and actually use with other people that they meet, but I think it [is] great because equal inclusivity and equal access is so important,” Kari said.

Not only will it open doors for the kids in the future, but it changed one lunch service worker's life.

girl eating school lunch at school
Unsplash | MD Duran

Leisa, of course, was extremely touched with the new movement in the school and with all of her students now able to communicate with her—their wishes and even to say hello to her in the food service line.

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