Award recognises kindy’s efforts with sign language

St Kilda Kindergarten teacher Jess Anderson uses sign language to communicate with (from left)...
St Kilda Kindergarten teacher Jess Anderson uses sign language to communicate with (from left) Jasper (4), Betty (5) and Jamieson (7) Skinley. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Dunedin kindergarten teachers have been recognised nationally for their commitment to learning sign language, creating an inclusive and accessible environment for deaf children.

St Kilda Kindergarten, in Victoria Rd, was presented with the New Zealand Sign Language 2020 Award for Early Childhood Education yesterday.

Teachers Jo Lamberg, Tania McIlroy and Jess Anderson, along with education support workers Nicki Gilmore and Sam Tate, began taking night classes to learn sign language four years ago when they learned a family with three deaf children would be starting at the kindergarten.

An interpreter also came to the kindergarten twice a week.

Jamie Skinley, who is the father of those three children, Jamieson, Betty and Jasper, said the kindergarten had been fantastic.

"They have just taken on sign language ... and been so welcoming, so accommodating for our lovely children."

Their mother, Crystal Skinley, said the educators deserved the recognition and celebration.

"These amazing educators have learnt a new language for three tamariki.

"Everyone knows language learning is difficult at the best of times, but these educators work far beyond full time . . . they are incredible."

Ms McIlroy and Ms Lamberg said supporting the use of sign language at the kindergarten was not only a benefit to the children who were deaf, but also "enriched" all the children, who would later take that skill into further education and help others to learn.

They had also incorporated both te reo Maori and English in their sign language.

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