Thursday, May 3, 2012

And She Made Me Cry

Today was the last day of ESL class until September.   I have mixed emotions about the end.  I am happy because the end means I am that much closer to summer at the shore but I am sad because it is the end and it was so good while it lasted.  We began in September and it has been a long journey for some of the students.  We had an awards ceremony and pot luck party today to close out the year.  The students love this day!  So do the teachers for that matter!

Most Improved Student, Me, Outstanding Student, Student with the Best Attitude , Attendance Award winner and my most excellent assistant
Back in September I entered a class of about 20 people who did not speak English.  Through the year many of the students drop out for various reasons, maybe they got a job, or maybe they have no transportation or don't feel like it is worth their time, whatever the reason we have significantly fewer students by the end.  Today I gave awards to five people who can now speak enough English to communicate and are all moving up to Level 2!  I was a very proud instructor.  This final group of students has been the core group through the entire year and we all feel very close now.  We have spent every Monday and Wednesday morning together studying, speaking, laughing, writing and playing a few games and we have gotten surprisingly close. 

As I called each one up to receive his or her award I found myself getting choked up.  There were family members in the audience who came to see their mother, sister or father be recognized for his or her commitment to learn English.  I gave my first award out and it was all smiles and clapping and then I was about to give the second award for the Most Improved Student and found myself getting very emotional.  I said a few nice words about her before I called her name.  She proudly came up to receive her award and then shocked me by making a English, in front of the entire room.  This, from the woman I could not get to speak louder than a whisper for over  a month when she first came to our class.  The woman who seemed so shy and serious.  I noticed lately that she has made progress and her skills have taken off, she even speaks loud enough for me to hear her now!  But to make a heartfelt speech in front of a room full of people.....she made me cry!  She said thank you to my assistant and me and that she prayed for God to bless us and our families and that she was very thankful for our time and energy in the class and our.....(long pause, what is that word?, I know it.. but what is it?, she is thinking and taking her is coming......) our dedication!  She was amazing!  I could not have been more proud if it had been my own child winning the Olympics.  It made my day, my every Monday and Wednesday morning for the last 8 months! 

She had me at "thank you".  Sniff, sniff.
 There were other special moments.  I have one special needs student.  He was awarded the Best Attitude.  He kept us laughing and was always smiling.  He is 30 years old and when he joined us I thought he was 17.  I will add that he has a lot of personality!  We had 3 women in our class named Maria.  Every morning he would say, "Where is Maria, Maria, Maria?"  Cracked me up!  He liked to give high fives too.  What I did not know is that he is quite a lady's man!  Marathon Girl came to the awards ceremony today and was our photographer and got to see where the classes are and meet the students.  Well, Mr. Best Attitude took a shining to Marathon Girl.  He's got game, because he had her name and email by the time he left!  He even asked for it in English!  Success!  Nice to know I taught a 17/30 year old man to pick up cute girls in English!

He is not interested in us...he has his eye on Marathon Girl!

After this year of teaching I think it might be a good idea for me to take a Spanish class in the fall.  I really need to know what my students are front of my face.  They could be plotting all sorts of things and I would not even know it!  Won't they be surprised next September when I start responding to their conversations in Spanish!  God bless them all, they certainly blessed my life.

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