Bret Cummens, instructor of American Sign Language interpreting at William Woods University, was recently named vice president of the Missouri American Sign Language Teachers Association.
“I act as a substitute for the president, as well as a liaison between the president and the committee. I work between the two of them making sure information gets transmitted properly,” he said.
Cummens feels honored to have been given this responsibility.
“It’s the first time I’ve been a vice president of anything. I am very happy to be rolling up my sleeves and getting projects on the ground.”
He has several plans for the future.
“I’ve noticed that there is a lot of separation because of our location. I would like to work on trying to centralize things. Also, trying to standardize our philosophy between all the ASL teachers is another goal,” said Cummens.
“I’ve always strived to develop my own skills, and have different experiences that have allowed me to share and to improve the ASL curriculum. I like seeing these things happen.”
Cummens wants to bridge the gap between the hearing, and the deaf community. Being deaf himself, he brings a special understanding of deaf culture, both to the association and to his students.
“In our area, there have been a lot of people arguing about whether ASL is a real language or not. I like being able to educate people, and be the intermediary in the process, between those two worlds. Being the vice president gives me a greater chance to do that, and to teach as well,” Cummens said.
Cummens enjoys teaching, and has found his William Woods students “friendly, challenging and enthusiastic.”
“They are so motivated and they want to learn. That motivates me to be a better teacher,” he said.
William Woods University is one of only 25 colleges or universities in North America that offers a four-year degree in American Sign Language interpreting. Cummens moved to Fulton from Ellensburg, Wash., in August to become a William Woods faculty member.