Codington Elementary School teacher uses sign language to promote inclusive learning

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Jenny Walters enjoys teaching kindergartners and after more than two decades in the same classroom, she’s even taught some of the children of her former students.

A teacher at Codington Elementary School in Wilmington, Walters taught a few years in New York before joining the New Hanover County School District 21 years ago.

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“I think when you find a career that you love, it just never gets old,” Walters said. “I really just walk in this classroom and am just excited to be here.”

She incorporates sign language in her daily lessons regardless of whether she has a special needs student who requires signing.

She says sign language aids learning among all students and promotes an inclusive environment. There’s even a sign language alphabet painted on her classroom wall.

“It did begin with me having a student with some special needs within my classroom and we started to use a lot of sign language to help him be able to communicate,” and she added, “Its just a multi-sensory approach to be able to help them to able to learn as well.”

She also gets high praise for mentoring new teachers at the year-round school.

“As I have advanced in my career, I have been finding the importance of taking care of the children within the classroom but also taking care of others, to help their children within their classroom as well,” Walters said.

Recently, someone nominated Walters for WWAY’s Teacher of the Week, sponsored by Wilmington Granite.

Codington Elementary School Principal Graham Elmore says Walters is a ‘fan favorite.’

“Mrs. Walters takes pride in really doing what’s best for all kids every single day,” Elmore said. “So a long time ago she identified the use of sign language being a good need and she’s continued to use that each and every day and its really built that class community which has filled the halls as a whole, not just her classroom.”

So what does Walters think about receiving this recognition?

“Its exciting to know that someone out there took the time to be able to nominate me, to have this special recognition is something that I will remember for quite some time,” Walters said.

While she dreams of retiring in the future, her primary focus, for now, are the kindergartners she sees everyday.

“My ultimate goal is making sure I am taking it year by year and doing the best for these children and looking toward the future of what I can do to improve myself as a teacher [and] to be able to improve their education as well,” she said.

Click here if you would like to nominate a teacher at your school. Each week’s winner receives a $100 gift card. Be as descriptive as possible about what sets your teacher apart from other teachers here in the Cape Fear.