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It's My Job: Signing to help students succeed

FARGO--Not every student in Fargo Public Schools can hear. It's Stacy Tornell's job to work with those students to ensure they are grasping the same concepts other students. Tornell graduated from St. Catherine University in St. Paul in 2005 with...

Stacy Tornell uses sign language to interpret a teacher's lecture for a hearing impaired student in a classroom at Fargo North High School.
Stacy Tornell uses sign language to interpret a teacher's lecture for a hearing impaired student in a classroom at Fargo North High School.

FARGO-Not every student in Fargo Public Schools can hear.

It's Stacy Tornell's job to work with those students to ensure they are grasping the same concepts other students.

Tornell graduated from St. Catherine University in St. Paul in 2005 with a degree in interpreting, and is a nationally certified sign language interpreter.

She has worked in the Fargo School District for seven years and is assigned to Fargo North High School.

Tornell also does other side jobs outside of her education work, including theater interpreting and teaching a baby sign language class.

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What interested you about this profession that made you want to do it?

I took American Sign Language classes at Minnesota State University Moorhead with Carolyn Stabenow and Michele Rolewitz as my instructors. It was through meeting these two wonderful, inspiring individuals that led me toward the path of interpreting. I have always had a passion for language and after learning about deafness and deaf culture, that solidified my career decision.

What are some of the personal rewards you get from doing this kind of work?

When working in an educational setting and the teachers are explaining complex or abstract ideas, and I am able to take the information from the source language, process it, and produce it in ASL or the target language, and the student has a light bulb go off and understands the concept clearly, I feel rewarded personally. In freelance interpreting, my personal reward is getting to meet and work with different individuals in different settings.

What are your favorite aspects of this job?

The only thing typical about my day is going to work every day. Every day is different and that is what I love about my job. I love working with the students and staff in the educational setting and with the deaf community in the freelance setting.

Even though you are doing a job, do you connect on a more personable level with the people you work with? How long does it take to build a relationship with someone you work with?

I maintain a professional boundary with the individuals that I work with. My job is to provide access to communication for all people involved. Building a professional relationship depends on trust. The student or clients need to know and trust that I, as the interpreter, am rendering the message faithfully without interjecting my own personal opinions or feelings, and that I am competent to know my own skills and abilities on whether or not I can successfully facilitate communication in the situation at hand.

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What opportunities are out there for people interested in pursuing this as a career?

For people that are interested in this career, I would say to research the interpreter training programs offered and to get involved in the deaf community. There are many opportunities for nationally certified interpreters such as: educational, freelance/community, medical, legal, theater, video relay or video conferencing. There is definitely a shortage of qualified interpreters so the need is there.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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