Hi I’m Christina - Co-Director of PELP
How did I become a sign language teacher for littles?
I've always had a heart for helping others and I'm confident that I was born to be a teacher! Some of my earliest memories involve playing teacher, putting on shows, leading nature lectures for my family... Early in my college career I came across the field of speech therapy. When I learned that it meant I could be a teacher who specialized in advocating for and empowering children, I was sold.
After receiving both my undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Speech/Language Pathology, I focused my work on supporting 0-5 year olds who had communication disorders. Watching children blossom from frustrated little people to thriving, empowered, communicative members in their families was rewarding beyond measure. The fact that I helped them accomplish that -- BUTTERFLIES!!
Starting the Portland Early Learning Project
A big part of helping these children was teaching them how to use ASL signs to start and participate in conversations when spoken language was too difficult.
Seeing how life-changing the gift of communication was for these children and their families, I (along with a few colleagues) decided to see if there was interest in play-based language development classes for children of ALL abilities. The response was great, and so in 2006 PELP was born!
I eventually stopped practicing speech therapy to grow my business and create a curriculum that is full of information and strategies coming from my practice as a speech pathologist. It’s effective, interesting, and fun and I’m quite proud of it today!
So... WHY am I STILL a baby sign language teacher even after 13 years???
I have evolved so much personally since PELP’s formation in 2006. I’m now a mama to my own children, and if anything solidified my devotion to my work it was becoming a mother.
When I had my first baby, I felt a little lost. Motherhood was not what I was expecting. I was exhausted. I had no clue if I was doing things “right.” I ached for community and connection with others in the same boat and when I found my community in a new mom’s group, it saved me. I vowed to make a community a focus of my baby sign language classes going forward.
And then. Signing with my own children moved me. They thrived. They were equal participants in our family conversations. They LIT UP when we understood them! And I lit up from the joy of connecting with them so deeply. Even after having taught other people’s children for years nothing could have prepared me for the magic of communicating with my own children in this way. I’ll never forget the first time my son signed I-LOVE-YOU to me looking up from his crib one night before drifting off to sleep, many months before he was able to voice this. Heart explosion.
Babies are absolutely amazing and they have a voice -- whether your hear it or not. How could I not share this magic with other families? Looking back, I can see that I was always meant to find this path.
Fun facts about me!
- I was born in Memphis, TN. I have lived in TN, IL, WI and OR and don’t always know which to refer to as home!
- Music is a huge passion of mine. I grew up singing, performing, playing piano… My second career choice would definitely have been a music teacher. Dance parties are a daily at my house!
- I’m a mama to two fantastic kids who are my absolute pride and joy - Nolan is 8, Scarlett is 5
- My husband and I met in Wisconsin, and moved to Portland in 2005. We were married in downtown Portland in 2008
Come and play with us! I can’t wait to play with you and your littles.
"I had known some ASL through previous work... But my son wasn't showing any interest until we took the Series A class. Once he saw other kids doing it and saw how much fun it could be, he really took off. Christina is so amazing at incorporating play and the songs really help to remember the signs and practice them throughout the week. We've also taken series B and cannot wait for Series C!."
"Christina teaches signs in a fun, light manner that are useful in everyday life! The class not only teaches you how to sign effectively but provides both children and adults a fun play environment where we’ve made many friends!"
"Christina & her class change the way you interact with your child. By the time my child was 12 months she had mastered 10 signs. By 16 months she was up to 30 signs. She's now 17 months & has 36 signs in her vocabulary. We use sign language as a bridge between spoken Japanese & English."
"It is such a joy to watch Jack express his thoughts or ask for what he needs rather than be frustrated and isolated because we can't understand him. We are so grateful for this class and the gift of communication it has brought us! Can't say enough good things. Thank you!"