Valdosta State students are talking, laughing and educating high school students in silence, and now thanks to a large federal grant, the students will receive the necessary education to be some of the top interpreters in the nation.
Nanci Scheetz, a VSU sign language professor, says, "This is going to be a vital link in the educational system. What we should see is an increase in standardized test scores with deaf students, academic achievement improvements as we have real qualified interpreters interfacing with them."
Educators say educational interpreters are in high demand, but in small supply for many public schools here locally.
Scheetz says, "In Georgia alone we have over 1,700 students in the public schools who are all deaf and hard of hearing and we have some students that are actually sitting today with no interpreters in rural areas because we don't have trained professionals."
This student says she knows how important quality education and training are in her future profession of interpreting.
Teela Davis, a future interpreter, says, "This is important because all of the children who are in the school system need interpreters who are skilled and know their job and what to do to help the children."
That's why these future graduates will become valuable assets in the Peach State's public school system.
Erin Burns, a VSU interpreting student, says, "It's always hard to find a job right after school, but it helps knowing that you can just jump into the school system in Georgia, anywhere in Georgia."