Meet Jessie Menchak, a new American Sign Language teacher

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Sophia Frobish

American Sign Language (ASL) teacher Jessie Menchak helps freshman Jaquenette Wheatley with her project on a famous deaf person in 6th hour ASL II class. The presentation will be given throughout the week in class to show famous figures in the deaf community. “I try to impact students by letting them know they're in a safe space [and] that they can be comfortable here with the knowledge I'm on their team,” Menchak said.

On the third floor at the end of the language hallway, American Sign Language (ASL) teacher Jessie Menchak greets her students as they walk into class, giving them a handshake and a welcoming smile before the bell. 

Menchak is new to the district after returning to St. Louis from teaching in Iowa.

“I lived in Iowa for four years, but I decided to move back to St. Louis where I’m from. I taught deaf and hard of hearing students while I was in Iowa, and I wanted to continue that here,” Menchak said. 

Menchak found the opportunity for her current position on the Parkway website and applied immediately. 

“There are so many things I love about this job. My students are fantastic. I love what I do. I have the opportunity to come here and enjoy educating. I think all of the students in my classes are phenomenal. We just work together [and] we get through the tough stuff to get to the fun stuff and it works out,” Menchak said.

Menchak previously taught elementary, then moved to the high school level. She currently teaches ASL I, ASL  II and ASL III, but the curriculum is not completely finished for ASL II and III.

“We have a base, but the curriculum we have right now, with the exception of ASL I, is still in progress. Nothing else has been set up in automatic units. I’m taking a curriculum right now and trying to match it to Parkway,” Menchak said. 

Menchak encourages all students to get involved with the deaf community. 

“I want my students to have a better understanding of the language, a better understanding of the culture and I want them to have tools when they go out into the world to educate other people, even if it’s on a surface level,” Menchak said. 

Menchak sponsors the ASL Club, which meets every other Thursday before school.  The club combines hearing and deaf cultures as well as exposes ASL learners to what conversations in sign language look like. 

“It has granted me way more patience than I ever thought I could have from teaching little mini-kids to high school students. You have to have the stamina, you have to be able to go all day [and] you may run around like a chicken with your head cut off, but still have to come across as ‘I got my cool’ and it’s just renewed my love for people,” Menchak said