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Innovative Educator: Homedale Elementary teacher teaches students to sign school pledge

“It just kind of helps them stick it in their brain,” Rebekah Jenkins said.

HOMEDALE, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union

At Homedale Elementary, the first graders in Rebekah Jenkins' class are getting a lot of attention, not for what they're saying out loud, but for what they're signing. The Homedale Elementary pledge lays out the expectations for students. The students pledge to be respectful, as well as responsible and safe.

“It just kind of helps them stick it in their brain,” Jenkins said. She taught her students to sign the school pledge for the first time last year, and then again this year.

“I know kinetically, students learn better when they're able to put a motion to something, so when we had this Trojan pledge instead of just reciting it,” Jenkins said.

She learned some sign language when she taught developmental pre-school, but she also had a personal experience with it.

“One of my first years teaching I had a student whose mom was deaf, and she taught me a little bit of signing,” Jenkins said.

The first graders loved learning the signs for values like "respect" and "responsible."

"They’re so excited about it and they’re like 'oh wow that’s really cool,'” Jenkins said.

She even incorporated sign language into other class lessons, like signing the alphabet and counting. Remember that student who sparked Jenkins’ interest in teaching sign language in class?

“Her little sister is now in my class this year, and so it's really fun having those same signs and things like that in the class. it's really fun,” Jenkins said.

With each sign, Jenkins said, her students are working towards being more open-minded and having a better understanding that we are all different.

 “Making them more aware that there are other people in the world in other ways, not just us speaking to one another  - there are other ways to communicate,” Jenkins said.

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Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.

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