A unique aspect to the life of this program, are the course volunteers. Class volunteers consist of 3 amazing Deaf women, 1 hilarious deaf man, and 1 very talented ASL interpreter. Each volunteer sows into a different, and vital, portion of the program ministry.

The Artistic Translation Facilitator meets with the students twice a year, during class time, and provides visual and artistic guidance on each students ‘special project.’

The Immersion Liaison provides monthly signed conversation opportunities for the students to build connections within the Deaf community and develop the skills learned in class.

The Visual-Receptive Mentor provides one-on-one development of language acquisition, in-put and out-put skill growth and visual receptive testing.

The students receive Interpretation & Conversation Support during various classes throughout the program, as well as at Deaf events, from class volunteers and the multitude of friends they will make within the deaf community.

Behind the scenes, the program also has a Language Conversion Guide, when direction and idea concepts are required.

Kari, Charles, and Tammy


Shelby Miller

Program Director

Lead Instructor

I am a wife and homeschool mom of five, from adulthood to toddler-hood, with a sincere passion for the Deaf community and the language which represents their heritage.

It has been more than 15 years since the vision for a local ASL course was planted within my heart, and the program has evolved over the years into a labor of love which I am sincerely proud of.

In my full-time career I am a doula and apprentice midwife, who has had the honor of supporting women and families through their pregnancy, birth, and new parenting journeys. I also teach natural childbirth education, and holistic health and wellness classes. Teaching and empowering others is my calling.

Johanna Valenta-Kennington

Artistic Translation Facilitator

Johanna is one of the beating hearts of this program, and a huge motivating factor in the continuation and success of this ministry! She works with the students personally on their ‘special projects’ each year, providing guidance in storytelling translation, proper expression and emphasis, as well as artistic presentation.


Johanna Kennington is a native Texan.  She enjoys going to church at Community Bible Church, interprets worship songs, teaching bible study to the Deaf middle and high schoolers, and has been on a mission trip in Moldova (Eastern Europe) visited with Deaf children. She is a University of Texas in San Antonio graduate with a degree in Special Education.  She is subbing at several different schools with Deaf Ed program.  Johanna is not a stranger in her Deaf community.  She is a former Miss Deaf San Antonio, Miss Deaf Texas in 2006-2007 and an actress at The Vexler Theatre Children of a Lesser God in 2008.  She is married to a long time friend, Ryan who is also Deaf.  She loves her three dogs, Hope and Buddy (BB) and her husband’s dog, Little Buddy (LB).  She enjoys snuggling with her dogs, hikes out in the Hill Country, making her nails pretty, stargazing, and travel with her husband.  She is also a newly active independent stylist consultant for Color Street Nail Polish.

She believes learning American Sign Language will open the door to new possibilities of making new friends in the ASL community.  It also brings possibilities to work to build a bridge between hearing and Deaf worlds. 

Kari Graves

Immersion Liaison

Kari has been a special addition to our class program this past session. It is through her, and her husband Charles, that our class gains multiple opportunities for immersion within our local Deaf community. Their involvement has meant hands on support, connection and conversational opportunities for the students, as they make their way through the language acquisition portions of the program. Just knowing them makes learning and being apart of this amazing culture beyond FUN!


Hi, my name is Kari Graves. I am proud to say that I am totally deaf from birth and I use ASL to communicate. My husband of 20 years and I have a beautiful teen daughter. We have 2 golden dogs and a cat (who is deaf!). As a family, we love to spend time together camping and swimming in the rivers and oceans. My husband and I started a group called “New Braunfels Deaf Community” in 2013. We host monthly deaf chats with fun themes. We get involved with NB community as much as possible such as having an ASL booth at the annual NB Kidsfest, having our own float in the annual Christmas parade, and teaching the community ASL and about the deaf culture. One of our goals for NBDC is to build bridge between the deaf and hearing communities. We love meeting not only deaf people but also hearing people who want to learn ASL and about the deaf culture. My favorite phrase in ASL is “I love you” and it’s something that I sign many times everyday!

Charles Graves

Visual-Receptive Mentor

Our class program has had the honor of educational mentorship from Mr. Charles Graves. His presence at most of the deaf events students will attend, has made the learning process light-hearted, and fun beyond measure! Charles has a huge heart for this program and its students. Our program relies not only on the skill-set he possesses of his language, but also his incredible ability to bring signed objects to life through unique storytelling. He often participates in the visual-receptive portion of student exams – making it like no other “test” a student has ever experienced!

Tamara Oakley

Program Interpreter

Language Acquisition Support

Tammy has honored our class with her skill in interpreting and her heart for Christ. We have been blessed to have her as our programs event interpreter. Tammy also attends many of the students Deaf events, helping, guiding, and encouraging students in proper ASL acquisition.


My name is Tamara Oakley. I am married to my beloved for 25 years. We have five AWESOME kids! Retired from Active duty June 01, 2017. 

I have a Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education from Liberty University and a Certificate of Arts in Interpreting American Sign Language from John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois.  

Currently, I reside in Texas and have passed my Texas English Proficiency Test for Interpreting American Sign Language. I am pursuing an option of becoming a certified teacher in the state of Texas and will continue working towards my BEI after that.  

As a teacher, mother, multi-cultural facilitator and leader I have learned that I have a specialty in logistics and event programming with a  passion for working with our young people. They have so much to teach us and are constantly reminding me that I have so much to learn.

I enjoy finding ways to work smarter and not harder utilizing the resources given. Ephesians 2 says that teaching is a gift and I have spent many a day honing that gift.