Exactly three years ago, I transferred to Concord High School after working 14 years in Elementary schools. Read more HERE about how and why I transferred!
Even though I've been at CHS for three years, this is the first time I get to attend our students' graduation ceremony. For the 2019 graduation ceremony, I had a scheduled trip to Mexico with the Go Global teachers team so I missed my first graduation ceremony. For the 2020 - the Covid19 pandemic hit and I was in quarantine the day of the ceremony so I missed it...again.
So, this year's graduation ceremony was very important to me. Because of the duty, I was assigned at the ceremony, I wasn't able to get all my students pictured and personally congratulate them. But, I did get a few - a few of my favorite newcomers, of course!
Pedro - I met Pedro during my first year at CHS. He had been in the USA for a year so he was not enrolled in my newcomers' course. Because he had only been in the US for a year, I made sure he received ESL support in his core instructional courses. I had so many chats with Pedro - Many of the conversations we had outside the classroom were about his behavior. He was just too silly! Everything was funny and he would make a joke of everything. I would have not had a problem with it if he was taking assignments seriously...but she wasn't. It wasn't until his senior year that I noticed Pedro began taking school more to heart. He was completing his assignments and his grades were doing well. Several times I'd see him in the hallways and he'd say "Have you seen my grades, Mrs. Francis? They're good!" - I can tell he was proud of his hard work and I made sure to let him know how proud I was of him too.
It was a joy watching him show up to the ceremony in his cap and gown.
Brandon - Brandon came to us my first year at CHS. Because he was enrolling for the first time in a US school, he was enrolled in my newcomers' course. Brandon didn't speak English - But this will not prevent him from enrolling in core instructional courses to graduate in 3 years since he enrolled as a Sophomore. It didn't take me long to realize Brandon's high potential. He was literate in Spanish and highly motivated to graduate high school and continue higher education. He completed his Sophomore year successfully but during his Junior year, the Covid pandemic hit. Attending virtual classes was very challenging for him. He withdrew from CHS and enrolled in a virtual academy school and lost track of him for a while. During our 2020 school year, Brandon decides to transfer back to CHS and hoping to graduate in 2021. It took guidance counselors several meetings to ensure they were enrolling him in the required courses for him to graduate on time with his peers. He had to take several online courses to fulfill the requirements, there were several emails, and messages, but he made it. Our only student from Uruguay was receiving his cap and gown and graduating and receiving his HS diploma.
Juan - Juan came to us at CHS in September 2019. As soon as he enrolled, he was placed in my newcomers' course because he was new to the US school system. However, I very quickly noticed his high English proficiency. I administered the initial English placement test and his scores - especially the reading, which was very high. He ended the semester with me but didn't need to be in ESL for newcomers during his last year in HS.
Juan was enrolled as a Senior since he brought his transcript with all the credits required to be placed in 12th grade. All he needed to graduate were the ENG and American Histories (with a few electives) to graduate in 2021. He finished the year strong - regardless of the pandemic and balancing hybrid learning - By June 2021, Juan was crossing the stage to obtain his HS diploma!
Jorge - Jorge came to CHS in January 2020. He was enrolled in my newcomers' course because he hasn't been in the US for many years. Jorge was born in the US but his parents took him to Mexico when he was little. He returned to the US for a year or two while he was in middle school but returned to Mexico till he was 18. His parents sent him to the US so he can finish his HS, obtain his diploma, and work to help the family.
Not only did Jorge bring with him all the transcript and credits required to be in 12th grade, but he also had a high English proficiency. His initial screener didn't reflect his high proficiency but just a month after his arrival, I administered the 2020 WIDA ACCESS test. I explained to him how important the test is and how I believed he can do much better this time around.
Well, he blew my mind! He didn't place out of the ESL program, but he did score very high in reading - So high that he didn't qualify for testing accommodations because of this high score.
Of course, teachers were made aware of his circumstances and they all worked with him to make sure that he was accessing content and receiving any classroom modifications necessary for his success.
Just three months in HS and the schools in the US shut down due to the Covid19 virus. This forced him to work full time since he was not attending school. He was a very responsible student tho. He always completed his assignments and his grades were always great.
For our 2020 school year, students were required to return to school if they were in the ESL program. He was working and the money he was making was helping the family. He was about to drop out of HS to just work - But, luckily he realized how difficult it is to work under the sun - countless hours without a profession. After discussing it with his parents and family, Jorge returned to campus full time and finished the school year strong. I was thrilled to see him crossing the stage to get a diploma he worked very hard to obtain.
Former Elementary Student