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British Sign Language lecturer named national teacher of the year

Amanda Smith, programme leader for British Sign Language (BSL) and Senior Lecturer in the Business School at York St John University, has been named national teacher of the year in the Signature annual awards for her supportive, nurturing and inspirational approach.

The Signature awards recognise individuals and organisations who have made a significant contribution toward achieving a society in which deaf and deafblind people have full access. The teacher of the year award identifies those who through their drive and enthusiasm, classroom commitment and high-quality teaching have expanded provision, improved access or achieved consistently outstanding results in qualifications.

Jim Edwards, Signature Chief Executive said:

“Amanda is a deserved winner of the national teacher of the year award. Her commitment to excellence in the classroom and dedication to improving her knowledge through research has had incredibly positive benefits for her students.”

Amanda, whose first language is BSL rather than English having been born deaf, teaches BSL levels 1 and 2 at York St John University. She recently became a Teaching Fellow at the University and is soon to add BSL Level 3 to the classes. Since she joined the Modern Languages Department there has been a substantial increase in the number of students studying BSL and Amanda recently achieved a 100% pass rate.

Commenting on her accolade Amanda said:

“BSL is like learning any other language – you need to keep practising, enjoy what you are doing and have a sense of humour! I am so delighted to receive the honour of being named teacher of the year by Signature and to win this prestigious award.”

Rachel Wicaksono, Head of Languages and Linguistics at York St John University added:

“The moment when Amanda's name was called out at the national teacher of the year awards ceremony was a truly thrilling one. Amanda's students and colleagues in the York St John Business School are extremely proud of her achievement.”

Amanda engages her students in lessons with the use of role play, handouts and by arranging visits to a local deaf club so that they can gain experience. She is a huge support to students when they are struggling and celebrates their successes by holding group meals and events. Amanda has a great sense of humour and believes that this, coupled with a positive learning environment, lead to great results.

With Amanda's support, the BSL students have set up a Sign Café at the University which is frequented by deaf students and local BSL users. Here they can practice their BSL skills and learn more about deaf culture. Amanda also teaches deaf awareness to University staff and integration has greatly improved on campus.

Further information about BSL and other language courses York St John Business School is available by calling 01904 876507 or via email foreignlanguages@yorksj.ac.uk

Picture shows (left to right): Jim Edwards, Signature Chief Executive; Amanda Smith, Signature teacher of the year; and David Buxton, Chief Executive of the British Deaf Association

For further information please contact Amy Hall, PR & Communications Officer on T: 01904 876466 or E: a.hall@yorksj.ac.uk


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