Imagine sitting in a class where you cannot hear your teacher’s voice. You cannot listen to her lecture, hear the questions your classmates ask or notice the squeak of a chair or hum of the pencil sharpener.
And, even if you could hear the words, what you would hear would be a language more foreign than silence.
For Ocean Lakes High School junior Karines Velazquez this has been her reality in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Deaf since birth, Velazquez moved to Virginia Beach from Puerto Rico two years ago. In that time, she has not only had to learn English, but also American Sign Language, which is vastly different from the International Sign Language she has signed her whole life.
And, yet, Velazquez has shined through these challenges. She has created a second home at Corporate Landing Elementary, where she works in classrooms to assist the school’s deaf population. In her work there, her language skills continue to grow and the young students benefit from an older mentor to whom they can relate. See more of Velazquez’s story here.