St Theresa’s school is signing away

St Theresa's

St Theresa’s School in Plimmerton is the focus of a new short documentary by Van Asch Deaf Education Centre.

The Making of a NZSL School follows Andre, who began as a new entrant at the school in 2016. The film shows his, his classmates’, teachers’ and the wider school community’s journey in learning New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) and incorporating it into the school curriculum.

Last year Theresa’s School won an award for promoting New Zealand Sign Language.

The awards acknowledged the efforts of those committed to the promotion and the progress of sign language and deaf culture in New Zealand.

St Theresa’s deputy principal and new entrant teacher Deborah Norris said the pupils had been really enthusiastic about learning the language.

Norris’s class of 5-year-olds spent all day signing and had presented a school assembly entirely in sign.

The school’s learning hub hosts sign language classes every Monday lunchtime and holds digital resources for pupils to access whenever they like.

In the documentary, Norris says roll time and prayers are always done in sign.

Her new entrant class began in term one learning three new words in sign each week and then progressed into full sentences.

By the time Andre is in year six, his classmates should be fully bilingual.

Darryl Alexander, NZSL specialist teacher and Van Asch’s resource teacher of the deaf, is impressed by how everyone in the school community has embraced the language.

Alexander says all this effort means Andre is fully immersed in the school environment.

“It’s like this school has made him feel he’s at home.”

Principal Donna McDonald, one of a few teachers who took night classes in NZSL, is proud that everyone has embraced Andre and NZSL.

“It has enriched our lives and it continues to,” she says.

“Both Andre and NZSL are part of who we are and what we do here, and we’ll continue to grow it in every way possible.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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