Joni Kerby

Position: American Sign Language (ASL) Teacher

School: Ruben S. Ayala High School

School District: Chino Valley Unified School District

City, State: Chino Hills, California

About the Nominee: Joni Kerby was nominated by her principal, Diana Yarboi. Mrs. Kerby has made a difference in the lives of students throughout her 13 year career as a teacher of American Sign Language (ASL) at Ruben S. Ayala High School. Her principal, Ms. Yarboi, can attest to her profound impact on student achievement, sense of self and career readiness, which are the result of the relationships she builds with her students. It’s not only what Mrs. Kerby teaches; it is how she teaches. This powerful attribute of developing close and caring connections conveys confidence and inspiration in her students’ capabilities. Her students confidently use ASL while interacting with the deaf community in society. Another astonishing distinction is the number of ASL graduates that articulate to neighboring Mt. San Antonio College and receive college credit, with her students receiving the highest scores in the county.

Mrs. Kerby is also a role model for developing students. She encourages her students to strive for greatness, live to their fullest potential and to seek the best in themselves. Her students genuinely admire her and learn through her. Because of her work, Mrs. Kerby has been nominated for and awarded Teacher of the Year at Ruben S. Ayala High School.

The ASL program at her school serves as a constructive factor in the school atmosphere. Each year, the students in the ASL program produce a Variety Show featuring songs (in ASL), skits and deaf poetry. It is a popular event, not only for the school, but for the deaf community, and it attracts nearly 1,000 guests. Most notably, Mrs. Kerby connects her ASL students alongside students with severe disabilities at Ayala, and the ASL students teach these exceptional individuals sign language! It is common to find these shining stars in the ASL Variety Show! The compassion and service to others that Mrs. Kerby demonstrates with her students is unparalleled.