ASL teacher shares journey with unspoken language


Camille Kelly

This is Madison Shugart’s first year teaching ASL at LCM.

Sarah Howell, Writer

Often, we learn new languages through school or by moving to new places. However, for Madison Shugart, a new teacher at LCM, her chance to join a new culture came to her through circumstance. After teaching at Bridge City Middle School, Shugart transferred to LCM to teach others in hopes that she could motivate students to learn that language, American Sign Language (ASL), as well.

Shugart moved to Austin as a child and lived next door to a Deaf couple. After making friends with their hearing children, she began to learn ASL through both them and their mother.

“She would sign to me while making dinner,” Shugart said. “After a while, I had picked up signs to communicate with her.”

When she moved back home to Southeast Texas, Shugart became determined to continue her ASL education. She then went on to take ASL as a foreign language in high school and continued later at Lamar University.

“My favorite part of ASL is the culture,” she said, “When I went to a deaf school, I loved the daily routines. We don’t realize they are so different from hearing routines.”

She noted differences such as bells, schedules, and even how times such as lunch felt, and even though everyone was different, she felt a large presence of community within the school.

She also spoke about the love and support felt in the deaf community surrounding events such as celebrations. According to Shugart, at sports events, looking up into the stands seemed more personal than at hearing schools.

“You could tell they were cheering for you,” she said. “In our (hearing) stands, you don’t really know if they’re cheering for you.”

Shugart also wants to encourage people to study ASL for the benefits she has received in her life and has been able to give to others.

“It is rewarding when you can assist a Deaf individual when they are in need of translation,” she said.