I taught a sheltered ESOL class in Florida. These classes exist in many different names due to educational alphabet soup. It was a World History/American Government/Economics classroom with three different languages represented by the students – none of them being English. Spanish speakers comprised the majority of the class, but Farsi and Arabic were present too.
I was blessed with this task due to my relationship skills, my knack for acting and my ability to get students out of their seats. I used thinking maps and other graphic organizers to teach vocabulary and major themes within the subject areas.
After my second year with them, I transferred to a different school to pursue administrative dreams. Much of my heart remained in that classroom with those students. I often wonder what happened to them.
Did they graduate?
Are they working?
Did they find success?
Being a student in the 21st century is difficult. I can’t imagine taking all of the pressures and anxiety of being a teen and pile on top limited English language proficiency.
One student, in particular, I knew I didn’t have to worry about. She had the guts, grit ( a very overused word in education) and heart to be whatever she wanted. She proved it to me in that last year.
Bella was a little more reserved than her classmates. She was well-liked and joked around but seemed to be a little more focused than the average 10th grader.
She never missed an assignment, never whined about the heavy homework load and asked many questions to clarify the information being taught both on in class assignments and from the homework.
I learned later she was “married” and had a child. I knew now why she was so focused on her education.
In the beginning of the second year, Bella became pregnant with her second child.
There was much celebration in the classroom when we found she was having a baby girl to go with her already 2-year-old boy. Many of the students were distracted by her changing body and all had questions but Bella remained constant and focused.
Then the day came. Bella did not show up for class. Her friends said she had an emergency C-section Monday night. It was Tuesday.
I wasn’t sure if the guidance counselor set up homebound school for her or if the social worker was going to work with the family during this transition period.
I wondered, what would happen to this girl who had been so very focused on her studies now that she had her second child at such a young age?
Friday afternoon, after school I heard a knock at my door.
I pulled my head out from stacks of papers and walked to the door. I opened it and saw Bella standing there on the steps of my portable in the rain.
She said hello and was a little bent over, supporting her abdomen with her arm.
This couldn’t be.
Four days ago she gave birth.
Was she lost?
I gathered myself and invited her in quickly.
After chatting about her new baby and viewing a few photos, I asked her how I could help. She told me she stopped by to get her make up assignments.
A C-section four days ago and she wants her make up assignments?
I said, “You need to be in bed. You just had a baby.”
She said, “No, I’m ok.”
I wasn’t going to argue with her. After giving her some assignments, she told me she was going to all of her teachers to get her work.
I told her I could call them and have them ready for her the next day. She said, “No, I’m okay,” and off she went to her next class, walking slowly but on a mission.
With dedication, determination, and focus.
No, I don’t have to worry about that one.