My name is Jennifer Parmley, and (much to the consternation of the rest of the team) I’m the last to share about myself on our blog – and I’m the blog captain! Part of the reason I haven’t posted yet is because there are a lot of changes going on in my life right now.
For the past 6 years I have been teaching high school math and science (and a number of other various classes) at Jean Massieu Academy, a charter school for the Deaf. However I have taken a new position as the ASL teacher at Richland High School beginning in the fall. I’m excited and a little terrified about the prospect, but I look forward to the challenge.
When I was 18 I left California to go to TCU. That first semester, my mom encouraged me to take a “fun, easy A” class so I wouldn’t get too overwhelmed. “You’ve always been interested in sign language, why not try that?” That class has changed the whole course of my life. I eventually graduated from TCU with a degree in Deaf Education and a deep passion for ASL and Deaf culture. I’ll turn 36 while we’re in Jamaica, so that means I’ve been signing for half of my life! I used to worry about the day when signing became mundane and dull, but the more I learn, the more it fascinates me.
Today at lunch after church I was talking to Laura’s daughter Lexi and she told me she has 2 birthdays – her biological birthday and her spiritual birthday. I don’t recall the date I accepted Jesus into my heart, and I was so embarrassed that I was 8 years old and had just then really figured it out that I didn’t tell my mom, but I remember the moment clearly. I realized that without confession and atonement for my sins, even the minor little sins of a well-behaved 8-year-old, God had no reason to listen to my prayers. I asked Jesus to forgive me and to make me worthy of God’s attention, because I couldn’t survive life (or at point, even piano lessons) without His help.
And now, as we plan to go to Jamaica, I am painfully aware of how much I still need God’s help. I’m going to share information on customizing instruction to the needs of students, or writing Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The students that come to CCCD usually arrive with little or no language. Some are 12 years old before they are sent to school, and some have other developmental delays. At its core, “special education” means identifying where a student is right now developmentally, figuring out where he needs to be, planning the steps for how to get him there, and measuring success. My goal is to help teachers through this process.
Please pray that my presentation will be interesting to listen to, easy to implement and effective to use. May I be sensitive to God’s guidance, both now as I plan and next week when I’m there interacting with the teachers. As we learned on your trip to CCCD last summer, the most important word to remember in Jamaica is “flexible.” I’m sure we’ll need some divine intervention on that front, so pray for willing hearts and open minds!