Witulski makes a difference at LPHS



It was once said “Hard things are put in our way, not to stop us, but to call out our courage and strength.”

One Slicer educator in particular–American Sign Language (ASL) teacher Joanna Witulski–lives her life by these words. She started teaching at LPHS nine years ago and has been inspiring Slicers to live their life to the fullest potential ever since.

Witulski is a superhero at LPHS. At the age of one, Witulski became sick with rubella (German measles) and later the illness caused her to lose her hearing.

Because of this, Witulski preaches the importance of not leaving people out due to their differing abilities. Her goal is to teach everyone how to communicate no matter the way they talk.

“The biggest lesson is communication. There is no one way to communicate, and speaking English is not the only way to communicate. Not everyone hears or listens the same way. We have to be conscious of how we communicate,” Witulski said.

She loves the concept of teaching others and learning new things herself along the way. She doesn’t take the things she can’t do as a limit to her success or that of others. Because of that, the education field was a perfect fit for Witulski.

“I always wanted to be a high school teacher. I didn’t decide what subject to teach. My interest is varied; the only subject I would be unable to teach is math. I wanted to teach where I could be challenged and to also learn from others, not just teach. To be a good teacher, one also needs to be a student,” Witulski said.

Witulski teaches not only because she wants to educate but also because she wants to help students live a life that can include everyone of differing abilities. She strives to teach her students to use everything they learn in the classroom and take it outside of the classroom walls and into the halls as well as the community.

“I try to connect with what students do on a daily basis and at the same time give a real world perspective on how to communicate various tools or signs with people who use ASL. That’s the basics as we move along further. I work with students in building their real world knowledge through activities, interaction, and skills,” Witulski said.

Witulski is a one-of-a-kind teacher. Teaching students how to learn a language without ever talking to them using her voice is an experience most will never understand. Her impact is felt long after her students leave her class.

“I often get emails, texts, or Facebook messages from current and former students so excited that they can use ASL with whomever they meet in their workplace or somewhere out there. It doesn’t make sense to teach a language without using real world knowledge and experiences,” Witulski said.

Witulski is also the club sponsor for LPHS ASL Club. She encourages everyone to participate even if they aren’t taking her class.

“We have an ASL Club, and anyone is welcome to join it. We will meet mostly during SRT, so listen for the announcements when they come in. Students are not required to know ASL to participate, only a willingness to learn, share and have fun,” Witulski said 

Witulski wants all her students and those around her to know that actions are more meaningful than the things said to someone. 

“Actions speak louder than words most of the time. Also, for the general public, just because I’m deaf doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s going on,” Witulski said.

Witulski’s actions speak loudly. She is a leader in and out of the classroom.