Interview with Ms. Stout, one of the deaf and hard of hearing teachers


October 2020 – Ashely Stout is a teacher at O. Henry Middle school. She works with the deaf and hard of hearing students at the school.

Question:  What impacted your decision to become a deaf and hard of hearing teacher?

Stout: During my senior year of high school, I took ASL which means American sign language and loved it. I had already taken three years of Spanish, so I decided to try this out. Originally, in college, I started with speech language pathology, kind of like speech therapy, but I quickly realized that I didn’t want to do that, so I quit.

During my senior year of high school, I took ASL which means American sign language and loved it.”

— Ashley S.

Question: What is it like being a teacher during Covid-19?

Stout: It is comforting to work in a school where teachers are valued, and we have a really great principal and assistant principals that care about us. All the teachers are amazing, hard-working, and great teammates. There are many challenges with everything that is happening, but, with this great community, it is easier to work through them together.

Question:  What other subjects do you teach besides ACES (advisory)?

Stout:  I teach deaf signing students reading, English language arts, history, and study skills.

Question:  What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up?

Stout:  I grew up in North Texas in a town called Sherman. I always say instead of stopping in my town, people usually drive through it to get somewhere else. Sherman is really the city; it is a town called Howe. I went to a really small school my whole life. There is an elementary school, middle school, and high school, one of each. In a big city you might have eight middle schools and five high schools. I grew up with my little sister and parents. My little sister is three years younger than me.

Question:  Has being a teacher always been what you’ve wanted to do for a living?

Stout:  I have wanted to do many things throughout my life. When I was young I wanted to be a vet because I loved animals, but I knew that I was too sensitive and would cry all day. Then I wanted to be a comedian, but I wasn’t very funny, so that doesn’t work. Really, in high school I did start to think about teaching, and when I took the ASL class, I thought, Oh, this is great, and that’s what started it.

Question:  How long have you been working with deaf and hard of hearing students?

Stout:  This will be my fifth year working with deaf and hard of hearing students.

Question:  How fluent are you in sign language?

Stout:  I am pretty fluent; I can have a conversation in sign language. There are always new words that I learn everyday and words that I don’t know, but I love to learn.

Question:  What are some challenges that you face working with deaf students?

Stout:  There are challenges working with any students, especially with everything going on. For deaf students. it can be hard because part of how they understand people is reading lips and facial expressions. On Zoom and with masks on it is much harder to see these things.

Question:  What are some challenges that deaf students face trying to fit in?

Stout:  They can be shy just like anyone else, so they might not be the ones to start the conversations. You should treat them like everyone else because they are just like everyone else.

Question:  What are some ways that hearing students can help them feel more comfortable?

Stout: Talk to them like anyone else; don’t make them feel different. Say their name and speak clearly because it helps them understand you when they read your lips. Making eye contact is important because when you’re looking away, they can’t see your lips. You can also take a piece of paper and write back and forth to one another.