2017-2018 NJ Teacher of the Year Shares Education Challenges

Steve Adubato goes on-location to the 2017 NJEA Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to talk to Amy Andersen, 2017-18 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year about the issues facing teachers and students both in and out of the classroom.

1/29/18 #2112






"Here we are at the 2017 New Jersey Education Association Convention. Of all the people... I mean I heard other people, I don't mean to... I don't mean to offend you, but I really really wanted to meet this young lady right here, she is Amy Andersen, the 2017-2018 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year. What an honor. American Sign Language Teacher at Ocean City High School. Congratulations Amy. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. All right, real quick, when you found out that you were the Teacher of the Year, what was your first reaction? Just shock. Just shock, and excitement, I think, because as Teacher of the Year I represent all of the teachers throughout New Jersey, but also as an American Sign Language teacher, and member of the deaf community, it's an opportunity to represent deaf culture, to represent my students who find this passion in American Sign Language, and promote that awareness as well. Explain the actual teaching, the process of teaching sign language. Okay. So I use an immersion method in my classroom. We don't use our voices. So maybe the first day, the first couple of days... Then all in? Yeah, and then we're all in. That's what immersion means? And... yeah, and they can do it. They don't believe it at first, the ASL ones, but they... yeah we do... I teach them some survival signs at first, in case they have to go to the bathroom, get a drink, whatever it is, and then we're just full steam ahead, and they are amazing, what these kids can do. Amy, why is it so important for students, for all of us, to know how to sign? ASL is the third or fourth biggest language, or most used language, in the United States. We have a deaf community that, although if we put all of the deaf people in one place, would be small, is really spread out all over the country. And what's really exciting that's happened in Ocean City, is with all of the students learning how to sign, Ocean City has become known as a "deaf-friendly" town. So... A "deaf-friendly" town? A "deaf-friendly" town. Define that. So when deaf people come to Ocean City, it's a big tourist attraction, they're walking on the boardwalk, they're shopping on Asbury Avenue. It's a great place. Yeah. There are students who are signing with them. So at first, they were just like, "Oh my gosh, here's, you know, somebody that can sign!" And now it's very commonplace. So I think that feeling of comfort, of... just natural, here's this other language, the more that could be widespread, you know, better..."