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Posted in American Sign Language, ASL, Mentoring on March 14th 2007 by Randy Reichardt

.: I am in my third year of being an In-School Mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters Edmonton & Area. In December 2006, the Litte Brother I had been mentoring moved out of Edmonton, and after consulting with my Match Caseworker, I was assigned to a new student, a Little Sister, whom I will call C. At our first mentoring session, I taught C how to spell her name in American Sign Language. Afterwards, Jessica, C’s teacher, suggested I teach her how to sign a poem about spring, so for the past few weeks, C and I have been practicing a poem called March:

The March wind blows winter away
And sweeps the streets from day to day
March brings surprises, first the day’s hot
Then it starts snowing, likely as not
Hurry, March wind, hurry along
We like to hear you sing your song.

The process has been very rewarding for me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed teaching C a wee bit of ASL, and doing so has given me the time to refresh my ASL skills, which have diminished over the years. Anyway, after learning and practicing the poem for a few weeks, C was prepared to sign the poem for her classmates with my help. On Tuesday, the “big day”, Jessica introduced me to the students (who are already familiar with me because they see me every week and I have assisted in the class before), and explained that I am C’s mentor, and that I had taught her how to sign a poem about spring. C and I stood at the front of the class, I thanked them for inviting me to be there, and showed them how to sign “Hi”. Then I read the poem to them so that they would be familiar with it before C signed it. Finally, I read the poem slowly while C signed it (she did a great job, btw), and we all clapped at the end.

Then came the surprise. C’s teacher, Jessica, asked if I would teach the class the first two lines of the poem! I said sure, and for the next ten minutes, I was teaching a class of Grade 4 students! I had a blast, it was so much fun! C and I showed them each sign, and then together we all signed the first line, and then the second line, and finally, both lines one after the other. The students loved it, and Jessica asked me if I would show them how to sign the third and fourth lines next week, to which I responded, “Of course, I’d love to!” All in all, very cool. 🙂