Klein Cain American Sign Language

The Klein Cain American Sign Language teacher doing one of his favorite signs.
The Klein Cain American Sign Language teacher, Gene Plohocky, doing one of his favorite signs, “becoming”. Photo by: Tonia Bloomingberg

This year Klein Cain was able to offer one of the most commonly used languages in the United States. The standard language used by deaf culture in the US and taught in the class is American Sign Language or ASL. Coming across a few deaf adults that he wanted to befriend inspired Gene Plohocky, ASL teacher, to learn sign language in 2004. Plohocky realized he needed to be able to communicate in a language they knew. His need to communicate set him on a journey to become a professional interpreter.

“Administrators are astounded by what the students are learning in the classrooms so far this year,” Plohocky said.

An assignment given to students this year is capturing the attention of staff members around campus. The “Teach a Staff Member” assignment requires students to meet with a willing staff member. Students contacted a teacher of their choice and meet weekly to teach them ASL. Students then teach Klein Cain High School staff different vocabulary words, greetings, symbols and much more.

Not only are the students passionate about this assignment, but the staff’s feedback encourages the students to work further and harder.

“If a student is willing to learn, I will teach them,” Plohocky said.

Klein Cain’s ASL course was only able to allow a select few to be able to partake in the elective this year.

“I have never been offered a skill like that before,” Seth Lawrence, one of the few out of many students who had the opportunity to be apart of ASL, said. “I enjoy teaching them.”

American Sign Language Background

Sign language is a unique language that has impacted this world for over 200 plus years. It consists of a combination of facial expressions, body postures, and handshapes with different meanings. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet introduced the first American School for the Deaf (ASD), in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817.

ASL has actually made an appearance in many TV shows and award-winning movies. Such as The Quiet place, Switched at Birth, Rampage, and more.

The most commonly used sign language in the United States, American Sign Language, is wide-spread in its use. As a result, even though ASL is a non-universal language, around 13 million people have some level of proficiency in sign language.