FRIDAY FACULTY FEATURE: Michelle Greene’s Great Passion for Teaching

A look into the world of the American Sign Language teacher.

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photo by River Brown

American Sign Language teacher Michelle Greene shows the sign for “I love you.” Greene became a teacher because of her love to share her culture and to meet new people. “I like to teach, and I want to help people,” Greene said, “I want to see more people signing, and I like teaching to see people grow.”

by River Brown, Reporter

Early Monday morning, a group of students enter their foreign language class, yawning and sipping their coffees. They take their seats and begin conversing with their friends about their weekends. But instead of expecting a challenging workday, they know their teacher, Michelle Greene, leads with a simple lesson: maybe how to ask about a person’s hobbies, or maybe how to tell what time an event happened. When Greene arrives in the room, she greets her class with a large smile. She asks each student how their weekend was, or how they are feeling. Armed with coffee and a positive attitude, Greene takes on their American Sign Language (ASL) class.

Greene became a teacher almost five years ago because she loves people. As a part of the deaf community, she deeply wants to share her culture and to see people grow.

“If I did not teach, who would learn American Sign Language? So I teach everyone to share ASL,” Greene said.

Greene started working at the school around four years ago, but she has been educating and helping people learn ASL for a long time. Before this job, she taught at a college for one semester, and before that, was a substitute at Castle View High School. Greene gained experience helping students in college.

“I would help students [in college] sign when they didn’t understand their teacher. They freaked out, so I would help lots of them learn as a group tutor,” Greene said.

Outside of her life at school, she loves surfing the internet and going on social media, where she connects with deaf people all around America. One website is a place where those who use ASL can post videos on a variety of topics.

“I love Facebook because both websites have deaf communities. So I do that when I have time to relax,” Greene said. 

Although Greene lives in Colorado now, she grew up in Philadelphia with her family.

“My parents passed away, so now it is just me and my two sisters,” Greene said. 

Greene, who was born deaf, grew up reading lips and signing Signed Exact English (SEE). 

If I did not teach, who would learn American Sign Language? So I teach everyone to share ASL,”

— Greene said.

“SEE is not the right language,” Greene said, “ASL is better – it is a more direct, good language.” 

Greene notes that some students at other schools learn SEE instead of ASL.

“I had a student in one of my classes here, who saw another high school’s ASL students learning SEE […] He was shocked. He didn’t understand what they were signing!” Greene said. 

The books Greene uses to teach are different than most high schools in the area.

“I told [the school] that I have to have these books when I started working here. Thankfully, they listened to me and bought them,” Greene said. “Books help people understand [ASL], and I can see people grow.”