When Alecia Bergeron retired six years ago, she wasn’t looking to start a new career and she certainly didn’t expect any rewards.

She has both.

Bergeron, who teaches American Sign Language to infants, toddlers and preschoolers at a unique center in Baton Rouge, is among 11 statewide recipients of the Blue-sponsored Angel Award. Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. The annual award honors ordinary people who do extraordinary work for the state’s children.

Alecia Bergeron, who helped start and teaches at Blue Bridge ASL Academy in Baton Rouge, was named an Angel Award winner by Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana.

“I love kids,” Bergeron said. “I am motivated to teach them and play with them. It keeps me busy and makes my heart happy.

Bergeron, who is deaf, had worked for nearly 30 years in record keeping for the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles before retiring in 2016. Three years later, she learned it was possible to use at both ASL skills and an affinity for children.

Katrina Rivers Labouliere, a hearing person born to deaf parents, thought Baton Rouge needed a daycare and preschool that could meet a variety of needs: children who are deaf or hard of hearing or whose parents or siblings and sisters are deaf or hard of hearing. -hearing, those who hear but not verbal or those whose parents want them to learn both spoken and visual language. In 2019, she announced plans to launch Blue Bridge ASL Academy, which opened a year later.

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Alecia Bergeron, right, uses American Sign Language to teach students like Tyler Richardson, left, at Blue Bridge ASL Academy in Baton Rouge.

“When I found out about this on Facebook, my husband and I looked at each other and were like, ‘Let’s go,'” said Bergeron, who was speaking in ASL with Laboulière as an interpreter.

Bergeron volunteered and recruited other volunteers to convert a building for this purpose, and she stayed to teach ASL. Blue Bridge has both a hearing and deaf instructor, so children learn both English and ASL. Although the Louisiana School for the Deaf offers residential programs, they do not begin until age 3. Blue Bridge is the only such facility in Louisiana, Laboulière said.

“It was created from scratch,” Laboulière said. “There’s nothing like it. Alecia worked alongside me with that. She really helped cultivate and refine our curriculum and our literacy program for kids and how to make those English words visual from so that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers can understand them simply from his perspective as a deaf person who uses ASL.

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Blue Bridge ASL Academy founder Katrina Rivers Labouliere, left, and teacher Alecia Bergeron, right.

Bergeron teaches children and reads them books in ASL.

“Little babies can understand,” she said. “If I sign them, they look, they stamp their little feet. They laugh. They understand. I sign ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ and different things like that. Even babies are very visual and can learn.

“Everyone loves Miss Alecia,” Laboulière said. “Babies really love her. A lot of what she does in providing the ASL component of the program is storytelling and literacy. With young kids, we read to them a lot and discuss our books. Kids love it. ,love,love when they see Miss Alecia coming in with books.It’s a visual production of having her read these stories in ASL.They all absolutely love it and love to see her come in and know it’s going to be a fun time with her. Literacy with Miss Alecia.


Alecia Bergeron, right, uses American Sign Language to teach children like Evangeline Branch, left, at Blue Bridge ASL Academy.

This fun won’t end any time soon.

“I will continue as long as my health allows,” said Bergeron.