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Junior Journalist Update from Mead – By Ananya M.

“Work for a cause, not for applause. Live to express, not impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.” – Unknown

Students at Mead Junior High that have first period math also happen to have a study hall before or after their lunch period. These little 20-minute periods are supervised by multiple teachers throughout the school; whatever period that teacher is not teaching. Dr. Coy’s study hall during Period 7B is a study hall like any other. The students eat their lunch during 7A, then head to the art teacher’s room. One day, the students noticed a new face in the classroom. They didn’t perceive anything at first, but over some time, they realized that this person was expressing most of his thoughts with his hands, more than the majority of us do.

After the visitor left, the students inquired why the two staff members were communicating with hand motions more than they usually would. Dr. Coy responded that the visitor, Mr. Forti, had lost most to all of his ability to hear. The students reacted in a very positive manner. In fact, they were intrigued. They asked Dr. Coy numerous questions, most of which he could not answer. The students were not discouraged because they were truly fascinated with what they had been told. They asked if Mr. Forti could join them once again to satisfy all their questions. As students tend to do when they are in a group, they started to bounce ideas off each other. One of these students had the thought to get Mr. Forti back – perhaps once a week – to teach them sign language. Dr. Coy explained the idea to Mr. Forti, and then to Mr. Szwed, Mead’s principal. When the teacher got an okay from both, everything was put in motion. Every Friday, Mr. Forti comes to the art room for 20 minutes to teach the students sign language.

The lessons always engage with the students, with at least 5 minutes left toward the end of the period for questions on what was learned that day. With the combination of the jubilant art teacher adding his own comments from time to time, and the overall expectations all of the students have when entering their 7B study hall, the tone of the classroom never fails to be lively. Every week is something new. One day, the students made up their own gestures that were unique and represented themselves. Another day, the students started to learn simple children’s songs, such as happy birthday, and signed to their classmate (in the study hall) whose birthday was truly on that day.

What holds the greatest value about these classes is not the fact that the we are learning to sign, (which in itself, is such an amazing thing), but the fact that the lessons are even given at all. Mr. Forti was not looking for any recognition when he first came to the classroom that Friday afternoon. All he had planned to do was answer the questions that a couple of students asked of him. How that little gesture has blossomed into something so much bigger is remarkable. This is how to tell a real act of kindness: Someone who only thinks about giving, and does not expect anything in return. The fact that Mr. Forti comes into the room every Friday to teach the students is admirable, and all 14 students and Dr. Coy genuinely appreciate it. Thank you Mr. Forti!