He's a teacher at Madison Middle School by day, but at night, Michael White becomes a student again. He takes the American Sign Language Class offtered through AISD.
"I've always been interested in taking this as an extension of being a teachers," says White, "but this semester, I actually have three deaf students in my theatre arts class."
White uses what he learns in his sign language class to bridge the gap with these students and make them feel more included in class.
"They're part of the class, they're an important part of the class," saus White, "and so the more that I can do to make them feel more confortable, actually makes the learning process easier."
In some cases, the students also become teachers, White had them teach sign language to the other kids in class. It's all part of non-verbal communication, which is an important part of theatre, but like any language, signing doesn't always come easy.
"Once they get past the initial laughter of me trying to sign some words to them," says White, "they acutally find that 'hey, he's trying to do something.'"
White is one of many students in class who use sign language in their everyday lives, Sharon Arnold teaches the ASL class, and also works as an interpreter.
"We have some parents that take sign language class so they can communicate with their children, we have friends taking it to communicate with their friends," says Arnold, "and we have teachers taking it to communicate with their students."
Along with the language, she also teaches her students about deaf culture and awareness.
"A lot of deaf people refer to themselves as capital 'D,' Deaf because they have their own culture," says Arnold.
But sharing the language is the best part of her job.
"My favorite thing is just to get sign language out there as an accepted and recognized language here in the United States," says Arnold, "we are now the fouth most common language."
American Sign Language is only behind English, Spanish, and Mandarin in the US. AISD offers sign language classes in 8-week sessions three times a year. Students of all ages are welcome.