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Onto a New Chapter of Life 

By Bernadette Pieper

The closing of a chapter of life for Gail Schenfisch, an American Sign Language instructor and interpreter, is around the corner. She started her teaching career at Casper College 28 years ago where she built the existing ASL program. In 2017, Schenfisch made ASL an established degree at CC. She will retire at the end of the spring semester. While she said she is sad to go, she is ready for a new chapter in her life.

“I kind of call it my graduation because I am graduating into a different genre of life,” Schenfisch said.

Schenfisch started her career teaching ASL for the School of the Deaf in Casper. She taught there for eleven years, and then she took time to raise her kids. She then started to teach at the college as an adjunct teacher until she became a full-time instructor.

“I am most proud of establishing a two-year degree in ASL studies that offers four levels of ASL. And we are the only institution in the state of Wyoming that offers four levels of ASL at the college level,” said Schenfisch. 

She is very thankful for the college and all of the support the institution provided her to help with the ASL program and what the program does for students and the deaf community in Casper. 

“We have a lot of special events that are big capstones for the students, like the Deaf Fest in the Fall. This helps expose students to ASL poetry and literature. Sign Fest evolved with one presenter and local community member eight years ago. And this year we have developed to the point of having a deaf educator. With the help of BOCES, we have brought in a deaf artist. The last four years we have had deaf artists who are nationally known,” said Schenfisch. 

As she steps away from the classroom, she will not be missing out on the action of signing because she will still interpret. She interprets for the State of Wyoming. Schenfisch said that while she does travel around the state for interpreting, but also stays busy in the Casper community serving the deaf. She also said she will stay available for for signing activities at the college or in the community. She also wants to take time to travel, be with family, learn to speak French and grow in her new passion for oil painting. 

“About six years ago, I took an art class and really found the passion for oil painting. I took that class because I wondered what I was going to do in my retirement,” Schenfisch said.

Besides finding a passion for oil painting she has also found a passion to travel. She said she has traveled to five of the seven continents with Antarctica and Australia left, but wants to visit all seven within her life. Schenfisch said she’s already hit all 50 states. She said plans to spend more time traveling with her family and some close friends. 

She is very proud of all of the establishments and accomplishments that she has done for the ASL program, the students, and the college. Schenfisch said she is going to miss the classroom, but she will not be far from the college or doing what she loves the most — signing traveling, and oil painting. She is ready to begin her new chapter of life.

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