On November 26th, 2019, I received an email from Alex Granados, a Senior Reporter for EducationNC. His email stated that he was "working on a series about "rock star" teachers...who are considered particularly beloved, effective, or innovative..." and he wanted to come to my school to learn more about me and my students.
Of course, we were thrilled to welcome him to our school and see our classes and students in action.
On December 4th, 2019, Mr. Granados visited our ESL classroom and was able to see my newcomers and my instruction in action!
My students were all working at their seats working on other class assignments and/or an assignments I had provided.
Meanwhile, I was pulling small groups to provide individualized and personalized instruction.
Mr. Granados interviewed me, observed my students, and met with my principal, Dr. Auerbach.
While Mr. Granados was in the room, we took a minute to cheer and celebrate one of our students. Oliver had just received a letter from the NC superintendent congratulating him for a recent recognition as Athlete of the Week for the Charlotte Observer.
I share this with you because I LOVE it (and students do too) when we are highlighted and featured for what we do best...learning and building a culture where the possibilities as endless!
My Favorite part of the article is this:
"Sitting in her classroom, one can see how that experience translates into a personal connection. The students work on their ESL assignments. But they also work on homework from their other classes, periodically checking in with Francis to ask questions or seek advice. The students chat with her in a way that is rare for students to interact with teachers.
“If I didn’t have my struggles and experiences, I wouldn’t be as effective as I am,” Francis said."
So, here is the beautiful article Mr. Granados featured on us! Enjoy!
An immigrant’s dream to be a teacher: Emily Francis of Cabarrus County
Updated on 10/24/19
Publications on the event: Mid-Island Times: Renowned speaker shares inspirational story with Hicksville students click here!
Over a year ago, Lisa Estrada, author and Supervisor of the English as a New Language (ENL) and World Languages department in Hicksville Public Schools in New York, invited me to visit her schools. The dates she considered never coordinated with the dates I had available. Until...we finally agreed on October 7th, 2019.
The ENL department had organized a Hispanic Heritage celebration with several events throughout Hispanic Heritage Month and at different schools throughout the county. Lisa's idea was to bring in a guest speaker who would inspire Latino students to embrace and appreciate their heritage as well as be encouraged to be successful in school.
I don't think I can explain the excitement and the honor I felt when I received Lisa's invitation to be the guest speaker they needed for this event. I have done several keynotes and presentations all through the country, but a keynote presentation for students was going to be my first ever!! Without a doubt, I accepted the invitation and started planning my visit to Hicksville Public School.
I am super excited to share that I have the greatest privilege and honor to be a contributing author in a new released book titled Community College Teacher Preparation for Diverse Geographies: Implications for Access and Equity for Preparing a Diverse Teacher Workforce.
"This book explores many topics related to the community college role in K-12 teacher education, including the community college mission, the policy landscape, partnerships, the transfer function, the community college baccalaureate, and others. Throughout the volume, the authors explore implications of access, equity, and geography and conclude with recommendations to guide future research and practice." ~ IAP
Our chapter: How an Unaccompanied Minor Became Teacher of the Year: The Unrealized Potential of the Community College - Dr. Spencer Salas, Bradley Smith, Bobbi Siefert, and Astrid Emily Francis.
To read more about it and/or to order a copy check out this link. The book will soon be available in all major online retailers and will also be available as an eBook.
EDUCATION ALUMNA USES PERSONAL JOURNEY TO INSPIRE THE NEXT GENERATION
"Emily Francis leapt from her seat in the audience of The Ellen Show and made a run for the stage. Only after she was perched alongside Ellen Degeneres did the 2016 Cabarrus County Schools Teacher of the Year realize that in her excitement, she hadn’t given the famous talk show host time to finish her introduction. But looking back at her journey—from a one room shack in Guatemala, to a New York airport facing immigration authorities, to crossing the stage at UNC Charlotte to accept a graduate degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)—it’s clear that Emily Francis had been racing toward a moment like this her entire life." ~ The Language of Love
I love how this article was introduced! The Cato College of Education at UNC Charlotte featured my story on their website this month. They also embedded wonderful pictures and videos they took while visiting me at Concord High School.
To read the entire article and watch the videos, follow this link: https://inside.uncc.edu/featured-stories/the-language-of-hope
Thank you for reading!
VirtuEL Conference Keynote
What Every Teacher of English Learners Should Know
On Saturday, June 23rd, 2018 I had the greatest privilege to join several inspiring and amazing educators from around the world at the 2nd annual VirtuEL Conference. Tan Huynh (@TanELLclassroom) and Carol Salva (@MsSalvac) are the founders of this amazing and FREE online annual conference for teachers of English learners (and all classroom teachers in general).
The lineup of presenters is EPIC - from classroom teachers to authors and professionals in the field. Each presentation is short but loaded with great and very helpful information to support our students. To see all presentations click here: bit.ly/VirtuEL
I was honored to be the mid-conference keynote where Carol Salva interviews me and I share my immigrant/newcomer story. I also share what motivates me to do what I do and what all educators should keep in mind in regards to their language learners. If you'd like to watch/hear the interview, just see Youtube video below or go to the VirtuEL webpage.
I also would like to invite you to follow the hashtag #VirtuEL18 where you'll be connected with amazing educators who share our passion to support language learners.
If you watch the interview, I would LOVE your feedback and learn from you how you will perhaps use this video at your school or in your county.
I leave you with this quote and thought...what are your language learners doing because of YOU?!?
Thank you for reading!
I apologize in advance, for the content of this post is not about strategies or methods to support your English language learners. This post is to brag on two wonderful opportunities I had these past two months.
Those of you who read my blog posts know that I generally post about the wonderfulness happening in my classroom, and/or ways to support your students. This time, however, is all about two big events that happened in my life and want to share with my readers.
People: Human Interest
Amy Eskind, a reporter for People magazine was getting her hair done by my sister Gabriela Barahona who works at Vanity Salon in Houston, TX when the conversation about me began. My sister shared with Ms. Eskind my story and she was very curious to learn more. She contacted me and we had several conversations about my past, my educational experiences, and what I currently do at Irvin Elementary with students and families.
Ms. Eskind thought that my story could potentially be featured on People.com. I couldn't believe it when she emailed me to let me know that my story was accepted and featured in the Human Interest section. I was more surprised when they contacted me for a Skype interview to go along with the article.
The article is amazing! I love how Ms. Eskind focused on the struggles I faced to get to the USA and the huddles I went through to complete school. I also LOVE how she highlights all the wonderfulness happening at Irvin elementary with our students and families.
On the day the article was released, a producer from Top 30 contacted me wanting to also feature my story as well. This is the awesome video they created to feature the story.
Ellen Degeneres Show
YES, you read the title correctly! I made it to THE ELLEN DEGNERES SHOW! Yay!
I cannot find the words to describe what I felt when I received an email from Ellen Degeneres producers! At first, I thought maybe it wasn't real. I did a little research to see if the person contacted me was really who he said he was! It felt so real when we interview through Skype and we started the conversation on featuring my story on the show!
Right after our Skype conversation with the producers, everything was so fast. In a matter of a couple of days, I was traveling to California! I knew my story was going to be featured somehow, someday on the show but... I NEVER thought I was going to be called on stage by THE Ellen Degeneres!!!!! Actually, let me rephrase that...she didn't call me on stage...I RAN when she started saying my name and talking about me! I feel so bad but I was SO excited when I heard her saying: "There's someone in the audience I want to meet. Emily Francis ..."
Not only was I super excited to be on stage and on national TV, but little did I know that my school, including students, parents, and staff were all gathered to surprise me!! My heart was raising so fast and I lost it!! My 4th grade student David said a few kind words about me that made me cry!!
But...that's not all...Ellen calls on stage Hamdy Ulukaya - founder and CEO of Chobani.
What a pleasant surprise to learn that Mr. Ulukaya and I have so much in common! We immigrated to the USA the same year - and his story of perseverance and persistence is admirable! After he shared his story, I was surprised with the biggest check I have ever seen in my life - Mr. Ulukaya donated $100,000 to our school's backpack program! WOW!!
I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and unforgettable experience. What I learned through all of this is that no matter how small our story and success might seem, it is important to share it with the world. There might just be someone out there waiting to learn our story of courage and persistence!
I am also grateful to Irvin elementary school staff, students, parents, and admin for all their support. They showed me how much they care for me and for that I will always be grateful!
Press Appearances and Mentions:
Cabarrus Magazine: A Cabarrus County Schools' Teacher Recently Featured in National Magazine
Independent Tribune: CCS Teacher Featured in National Magazine
Independent Tribune: Concord ESL Teacher to be Featured on Ellen
Independent Tribune: Irvin Receives $100,000 Donation from Chobani
Fox 46 Charlotte; #GoodDayCharlotte: Charlotte Area Teacher Surprised with $100K from Chobani on Ellen
Thank you for reading!
CELEBRATING SUCCESS AND FAILURE
Blog originally published 05/12/17 on Teacher2Teacher
When I started going to school in the United States, I was embarrassed.
My age landed me in a ninth grade class, but the highest education I’d received in Guatemala was sixth. There was too much to worry about in Guatemala: watching my younger brother and sisters, helping my family buy food, staying safe in a tumultuous country.
We immigrated to New York City to be with my grandmother because my mom wanted a better life for us. So there I was, new to this massive city, experiencing all the shock and displacement that come with being foreign in a new home and placed in classes three years beyond any I’d taken before.
Still, I loved it. All of it. It was the first time I was able to embrace school and education. I went to school in the morning. I went to satellite classes in the evenings. I spent nights surrounded by dictionaries and thesauruses to do my homework.
And as hard as it was, I did well. I learned the language in a year and a half. I tested out of my ELL classes. I completed 42 credits.
But things came apart for me right at the end on a test I couldn’t pass. American history. Go figure. I was so disappointed. I’d given everything I could. I had worked so hard over such a short period of time. But I didn’t graduate. They said, “Come back next year and try again.” I didn’t. I was done with school. It wasn’t for me.
And that was the hardest part, that it wasn’t for me. Failing at school made me question everything I believed I knew about myself. Ever since I was a little girl, I’d wanted to be a teacher. Taking care of my brother and sisters, I worked with them on their numbers and the ABCs. It was always on my heart.
My grandmother was a preschool teacher who retired from New York. I remember her telling stories after school – not what she said or what happened to whom, but the passion and joy that spread across her face as she told them.
After I dropped out, I went to work as a cashier. I needed to help my family. I did that for several years, moving from New York to North Carolina. And that was fine for a while, but a time came when it just hit me: I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do with my life.
I got the bug for education again. I found a local community college and got my GED. My GED is framed on the wall of my classroom. It was passing that test that allowed me to keep going.
I went on from there to find success in college: I got my associate’s degree, my bachelor’s and then my master’s, but a test – another test – did me in. I couldn’t pass my Praxis to become an elementary school teacher.
When I think back on that American history test and the Praxis, I feel such empathy for my students. It never got easy for me. I’m not sure it ever does for ELL students. It’s hard to build confidence, and there’s so much failure.
It never got easy for me. I’m not sure it ever does for ELL students. It’s hard to build confidence, and there’s so much failure.
But if there’s one thing that’s been true for me, it’s that belief comes when you least expect it and most need it. I found my first job in a classroom as a teacher’s assistant in Angie Power’s first grade class. I spent eight years with Angie, and it was exactly where I was meant to be. Because of the time I spent under her wings, learning from her right alongside those first graders, I knew I could do it when it came time to walk out of her classroom and into my own.
After all my starts and stops, the ups and downs, I’d found a place to learn, and I’d found someone who believed in me. I walked out of Angie’s class ready, for the first time, to become what I was meant to be.
They made me the educator I am today, an educator who understands the fears and anxieties of my students and their parents. They made me an educator who will be for my students what I didn’t always have: someone to believe in them. They made me an educator who’s still got so much to give.
And I’m thankful to everyone who supported me. To my mom and my family, to my grandmother, to Angie for teaching me right alongside those first-graders, to my cooperating teacher Sarah Collins, to all who’ve shaped my path: Thank you. Let’s never stop believing in each other and in our profession, appreciating what we get to do and cherishing the opportunity we have to inspire our students to learn, dream and succeed.
Thank you for reading!
Teacher of the Year Program Eligibility and Criteria:
A candidate should…
During my fourth year teaching not only was I eligible, but was also nominated and elected by my colleagues as Teacher of the Year 2016-2017 for W.M. Irvin Elementary school.
Reading the criteria a teacher of the year should exhibit, I can name a lot of teachers at our school who not only deserve this honor but exemplify these qualities and more.
I was honored to start representing our school and all the wonderful thing we were doing for our students!
Teachers of the year from individual schools in the county advance to compete at the district level.
A selection committee interviews each nominee and selects the top 5 finalists.
On March 23rd, 2016 I received the following email: "Congratulations! You have been selected as one of the five finalists for the Cabarrus County Schools Teacher of the Year!"
I was super excited and honored to have made it as a finalist. I immediately shared the news with colleagues and family.
The five finalist get observed in the classroom by the selection committee. Students, staff, and administration are also interviewed regarding teacher impact at the school level.
On May 5th, 2016 Cabarrus County hosted a ceremony to honor 2016 school Teachers of the Year and announce the district teacher of the year.
The unforgeable moment was when I heard superintendent Dr. Lowder announcemy name as Cabarrus County Teacher of Year for 2016-2017. I don't have the words to thoroughly convey how I felt in that moment. I was beyond excited to receive such an amazing recognition. This is the passage Ms. Glenda Jones, Assistant Superintendent read about me as I came on stage to join the other finalists.
As our county's teacher of the year, I was honored to join our board of education as a teacher liaison for 2016-2017 school year.
I also had the great opportunity to share a message of inspiration with beginning year teachers.
But the best part of all this was the opportunity to inspire my students to reach for the stars and that nothing is impossible!
So many doors have opened for me this year. I am thankful for the opportunities I get to grow professionally and share my passion.
I am now part of the FabFive Squadster Team, a group of teachers, instructional coaches, and site and district leaders who focus on building sustainable approaches to ELL and multilingual instruction that are highly relevant to teachers, students, administrators, and parents. We represent five different parts of the US: California, Texas, Washington, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. Find us on Twitter: #FabFiveSquad and at Teaching Channel.
I also had the honor to be featured by Teacher2Teacher.
And last and not least, during the summer of 2017 - I got to join other North Carolina teachers on a professional trip to Germany sponsored by Go Global NC.
On Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017, I was honored to share my remarks as 2016-2017 Cabarrus County Teacher of the Year with new Teachers of the Year and celebrated Mrs. Paige Norris as our new County's Teacher of the Year for 2017-2018.
Here's my speech:
"Maria Calla dijo:
“Esa es la diferencia entre buenos maestros y maestros geniales: buenos maestros hacen lo mejor de los medios de un estudiante; maestros geniales predicen los fines de un estudiante."
Maria Calla Said:
“That is the difference between good teachers and great teachers: good teachers make the best of students’ means; great teachers foresee students’ ends.”
Congratulations great teachers of the year! I am honored to be here on this special night dedicated to YOU and to honor you for loving what you do, and for going above and beyond your responsibilities as an educator.
Don’t ever take for granted what you do and who you are, because as an educator you hold your students key to success. Let me tell you what I mean by that.
A couple of months ago, I had an ESL student stand up in the middle of class and said: "Mrs. Francis, what do I have to do to place out of ESL?"
I went ahead and showed her the data, and gave her step-by-step what she needed to do to place out of ESL status.
However, I needed to know what she was asking this! I thought maybe she didn't like me, or my class. Or maybe I needed to do something different for her. So I asked why she was asking this. She said: "Oh no, Mrs. Francis I like you, and I like your class. Even if I place out of ESL, I still want to come to your class." I said, OK - then why the question?
She responded: "Is just that being an ESL student makes me feel like a failure."
Her words hit me to the core! I could see through her eyes that she was feeling exactly how I felt for so many years as an ESL student and as a high school dropout. She was speaking the words I never had the courage to speak.
When I tell you that you that you hold your students’ keys to success, is because you DO! Education is the key for our students to be able to rewrite their personal narrative.
A narrative that empowers them, their families, their communities, and our society!
My personal narrative before education was a narrative with failure written all over it. As an ESL student and a HS dropout, if you would’ve told me I was going to be standing here a year ago receiving the greatest honor of being named Cabarrus County Teacher of the year...I would’ve told you-you were insane.
However, OUR profession made it possible for me to rewrite my personal narrative so I no longer live with the sense of failure; I realized that as a broken crayon...I was still able to color.
When I think back on all of this, I can’t help but rejoice in it - even the hard parts. I am thankful to everyone who supported me this far. My mother, who without her strength I would have never reached the American Dream; Corey Cochran who hired me with just a GED and nothing else on the table; To Angie Power who took me under her wing and taught me right along her 1st graders or 8 years; For WM Irvin who elected me to represent our school; Assistant principal Danielle Baker, thank you for your support; The board of education who welcomed me and took into account my point of views and opinions; Dr. Lowder, I know you believe in me.
YOU highlighted my strengths and made my weakness disappeared.
Cabarrus County Schools YOU made me the educator I am today, an educator who will be for students what I didn’t always have: someone to believe in them. An educator who has so much more to give to our profession.
So let’s never stop believing in each other and in OUR profession, appreciating what we get to do and cherishing the opportunity we have to INSPIRE our students to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more!"
Thank you for reading!