They arrive from Yemen, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras eager to learn. While they are welcomed by our school community, they come with many challenges. We try our best to meet their needs: providing both case management and emotional support in addition to our core responsibility- providing them with a world class education.
To do this, we depend upon functioning technology.
Lessons are built around words and images. But because they are projected from a machine that is so weak, they cannot be seen unless the lights are turned off. So I turn the lights on and off all day long. Their poor eyes! My poor eyes! Surely, we can do better!
There are many challenges these students must face as they learn a new language and a new culture, but being able to read and write at the same time, should not be one of them.
I teach in a high school program designed to ready newcomers for academic success. It is an honor to be their first American teacher. It is also a little embarrassing sometimes to not have basic, functioning technology.
Every day, I greet them with joy.
But once class begins, I must apologize for the fact that I will have to turn the lights on and off throughout the period. They will squint and call out my name when the lights come back on. There is nothing I can do to help them see the lesson with the lights on, and they cannot copy it into their notebooks with the lights off. So it goes..lights on, lights off, lights on, lights off!
My students and I are lucky to have volunteers work with them one-on-one and in small groups. Many of these teens have been out of school for some years. Many received only a sixth grade education, some were forced to leave school to support their families, others were prevented from attending school by families too afraid to send them to school..
They are sweet and kind, to their teachers and to each other. It is exciting to see them, against so many odds, succeed and graduate.
They will work hard to make their families proud. They will become this country's future nurses, police, computer programmers, shopkeepers, tradesmen and women, lawyers, teachers, scientists and administrators.
Every day, I greet them with joy. But once class begins, I must apologize for the fact that I will have to turn the lights on and off throughout the period because, while they can see the lesson with the lights off, they cannot copy it into their notebooks; and so it goes..lights on, lights off, lights on, lights
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