Volunteer brings signs of Valentine's Day to the hearing-impaired at Savage library


February 11, 2000|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

KATHY PONGOR will present a sign language story time at the Savage branch library on Valentine's Day.

This year, the holiday falls on the second Monday of the month, which is when Pongor holds her half-hour sessions of stories told in sign language.

The library volunteer has been telling stories to hearing-impaired children -- and those with hearing -- every month for three years. It's the oldest regularly scheduled sign language story time in Maryland, she says.

The story times are a busman's holiday for Pongor. Her day job is teaching at Kendall Demonstration School in Washington -- an elementary school affiliated with Gallaudet University, a university for the deaf.

Pongor, who lives in Savage, teaches first- and second-graders with multiple disabilities to read English as well as to sign. It is harder for her pupils to learn to read than for hearing children, she says, because they are learning two languages.

One day, she asked her pupils whether their parents took them to the library.

"What for?" one child replied. "There's nothing there for me."

Pongor was surprised -- and puzzled. "I kind of thought about it," she said. "Not that anyone would exclude them. My kids love to go to the library because everybody signs."

Then she realized that her pupils love to go to their school library, where the librarians and other staff members all sign.

That's when Pongor decided to hold signed story-times for hearing-impaired children at the public library.

"I thought it would be nice to do this in a public setting," she said.

Pongor approached the Howard County Library. Staff members were enthusiastic, and Pongor began presenting her story-times at the Savage branch, not too far from her home.

Her story times draw diverse audiences. "We get hearing parents, deaf kids, hearing kids, those with deaf playmates," Pongor says. "We get an interesting collection of folks."

She and the children's staff at the library choose books to read a few days before the event.

"Last month, we did snow books," Pongor said. "I try to go through [the stories] so that they have a good visual component. We taught the kids the sign for snow."

Monday's offering will include Valentine's Day themes. The books haven't been selected, but Pongor knows she will teach the signs for "I love you."

When she is not working or volunteering, Pongor practices ice dancing. She is a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Association, the "group that sends the kids to the Olympics," she says.

Pongor is working her way up the learning ladder of "pre-bronze," "bronze," "pre-silver" and "silver" ice-dancing competitions. She is perfecting her moves for her pre-silver test. When she passes that, she will move to the next level of training.

Come say hello to Pongor at 7 p.m. Monday. You might hear -- and see -- some wonderful stories.

Information: 410-880-5978.

Warm craft

Kathy Branch, owner of Folkways, a Savage Mill store specializing in quilting and other American crafts, is offering quilting classes for seamstresses in need of a new project.

Classes for beginning quilters will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays, from March 11 through April 1.

The four-week session costs $40 and is taught by artist Diana Hamil. Participants will create a wall hanging and will acquire the skills needed to make a quilt for next winter.

Information: 301-490-5410.

Stained-glass class

The Glass Key, the new stained-glass supply shop in Jessup, has a novel idea for Valentine's Day.

The folks there are offering a top-secret glass mosaic class for children ages 8 to 12 from noon to 2 p.m. tomorrow. No parents are allowed.

Whatever could they be doing? Creating a gift, perhaps? The answer is top secret.

Other classes offered include making garden-path stepping stones, Tiffany-style lamps, glass boxes and mirrors.

Information: 301-483-6066.

Young artists

Congratulations to Bollman Bridge Elementary pupils Andre Jones, Sabrina White, Emilio Henderson, Paris Costley, Zack Ganoe, Dana Sutula, Dan O'Mara, Jessica Lu, Curtis Mitchell, Emily Dean, Rachel Lanspa and Tasha Beyzavi, whose artwork is on display until March 13 at AllFirst Bank in Kings Contrivance Village Center.

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