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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Teaching sign language at SLC


Jamie Stewart | Wasco Tribune

LisaMarie Mendez, Shafter Rotary president, with guest speaker Emily Lopez.

Emily Lopez was the guest speaker at a recent Rotary meeting where she told the members of the opportunity she has to teach local children how to communicate using sign language.

Lopez is one of the teachers at the Shafter Learning Center, where children and adults have been filling classes this summer in a wide variety of subjects. Lopez will teach classes in American Sign Language at the SLC. The course will give the students a chance to learn basic sign language skills.

Topics covered will include the manual alphabet, numbers, people, food and drink, home, family, colors, activity and more. Students will practice receptive and expressive skills in small-group activities. The course is designed for students who have little or no prior knowledge of sign language.

Lopez was born and raised in Shafter. Coming from a family with a deaf brother, Lopez chose to pursue a career in sign language interpreting. Lopez worked for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools as a staff interpreter for seven years before moving to Sacramento to continue her education.

She graduated from American River College, where she completed the Interpreting Preparation Program.

Lopez stayed up north for a total of 7 years, working for the Lodi Unified School District and Eaton Interpreting Services. When her contracts were up, she returned to Kern County to help establish a nonprofit ASL interpreting service agency. Once the agency was up and running, Lopez accepted a position with the Kern Community College District as a sign language interpreter at Bakersfield College.

In addition to her staff position at BC, Lopez works as a freelance community interpreter. Her ASL interpreting experience includes K-12, postsecondary education, athletics, medical, mental health, political and performing arts interpreting. Lopez currently holds an educational signing skills evaluation certification and national interpreter certification. She is also a certified member of the Registry for Interpreters of the Deaf.

This is just one series of classes at the Shafter Learning Center in a curriculum that spans a multitude of subjects for all grade levels, as well as adults. All who are interested in any of the classes offered are encouraged to go online to the SLC website or visit the center at 236 James St.


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