Couple teaches sign language to adults, children in River Hill


WHEN FRED AND BECKY HARTMAN moved to River Hill last spring, they naturally wanted to get acquainted with their new neighbors.

There was one complication -- the Hartmans are deaf. But Fred, who teaches sign language part time at Catonsville Community College, found a solution. This summer the Hartmans have volunteered to teach American Sign Language to adults and children at The Meeting Room in River Hill, in space donated by Village manager Sunny McGuinn.

"I know many people are awkward in communicating with deaf people," said Fred. "We are here to give some basic awareness about the deaf."

Fred is teaching the adult class; Becky helps with the children's class, for those 6 to 14 years old.

The Hartmans have two young children of their own. "They are hearing," noted Fred, "but they communicate with us in sign language."

Fred has been teaching for more than 10 years. "It really inspires me," he said, "when I visit a doctor, and an interpreter is there -- and it happens to be one of my students."

The Hartmans plan to offer more classes at River Hill this fall.

Crime crackdown

Town Center residents and others who want to find out more about the Howard County Police Department's new Robbery Suppression Unit are invited to a meeting at 7: 30 p.m. Aug. 14 at 5430 Vantage Point Road.

The unit was formed last month to crack down on robberies in Town Center, as well as in the Villages of Long Reach and Oakland Mills. Town Center village manager Kathleen Liparini noted that "the residential part of Town Center is really very safe," and that recent incidents have occurred in the downtown business district.

Representing the police will be Capt. Richard Hall, commander of the Southern District; Lt. William McMahon, special operations division commander; and Sgt. Morris Carroll, supervisor of community services. They will explain the new unit and address other citizen concerns.

Information: 730-4744.

Play Pals

Registration is under way at Linden Hall for the next session of Bonnie Bricker's Fall Play Pals, a series of parent/child classes for children from 10 months to 4 years old.

Classes start Sept. 9 and meet once a week for 13 weeks at the Dorsey's Search meeting room, 4649 Columbia Road. Fees range from $88 to $138; discounts are offered to Columbia residents. Bricker, a Columbia resident with a master's degree in education, developed the program 14 years ago to provide developmentally appropriate activities for children and support for parents.

"Parents sometimes feel lost," she said. Her classes bring them together with other parents and show them appropriate activities for each age group. "We've had a wildly diverse group," she added, with a variety of cultures and economic classes.

For more information, call Bricker at (301) 596-2504 or Linden Hall at 730-4005.

School grants

United Way of Central Maryland recently distributed grants to two West Columbia schools.

Running Brook Elementary School received $7,500 for its F.A.C.T.S. program -- Families and Community Together with School. The goal of the program, said Assistant Principal Corita Oduyoye, is "to establish positive connections with parents who are not typically involved with the school."

Activities include workshops on parent skills, preschool and summer play groups and a summer program of academics and recreation for students. Oduyoye noted that she and Principal Deborah Drown have reached out to the school's large Hispanic population by holding meetings in the community. They have followed up by offering English classes for parents and publishing all school notices in Spanish as well as English.

Additional support for the program comes from the Columbia Foundation and the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks.

Longfellow Elementary received $2,500 for The Family Network, a program to strengthen parenting skills and to provide after-school activities for latchkey children. Workshops are planned for parents and students on topics such as conflict resolution, homework nightmares, dealing with stress and resolving sibling rivalry.

Pub Date: 8/07/96

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