May 13, 2018

Do What You Love, Love What You Do

5/13/2018 — cori

I was very sad to leave my amazing job behind when we moved to Colorado 10 months ago. I was actually shocked I was getting paid to do what I loved with people I adored. I didn't think I'd ever be able to do that again, at least not in that capacity. I thought that once I moved here, I'd have to start all over as a volunteer since I didn't have a CO teaching license. I applied to 4 ESL teaching jobs in the area, even though I didn't have the exact qualifications for them (a Master's degree or a CO teaching certificate). I thought maybe I could at least be a classroom helper. I never heard back. I was so sad. I couldn't imagine not getting to teach again.

I had been looking at this one website where I thought I might like to volunteer if I wasn't able to find a job. It was a place in Greeley, about 35 minutes from where I lived. It was called the Global Refugee Center (they have since changed their name to the Immigrant and Refugee Center). I wasn't sure what services they offered, but I knew I had to be around these people in some capacity. I just really loved their mission statement and how they were reaching out to the local community. On a whim, I called and asked if they had any need for ESL teachers. I was put through to someone who told me to send her my resume and if the director likes it, they'll get back to me. I did so, but didn't expect any return email or phone call. That same night, I got an email saying the director would like to meet with me. Two days later I had an interview. I loved this director. We hit it off immediately. She said, "I know I should do the right thing and call all your references, but I like you and I'd like to offer you the job if you want it." Of course I wanted it! It meant working Saturdays because that was the only position they had open, but I said "Yes!" in a heart beat. I have been in love ever since.

A few weeks later my boss emailed me asking if I'd like to take on another class through the school district. Of course I agreed. And a few months after that, she asked if I would take over a class for one of the teachers who is leaving to have her baby. Another excited, "yes"! So over the course of the school year, I ended up with 3 classes. I couldn't have dreamed of this - and I was getting paid. Amazing!

These are the pictures of people I have grown to love this past school year. These students astound me with their dedication, hard work and life experience. I am so lucky to surround myself with people like this that I can learn from on a daily basis.

This is my ESL 5 class. I was so intimidated jumping in to take over this class mid year since I'd never taught this level. It was a steep learning curve for me. But it turned out to be my absolute favorite level ever. We have so much fun in this class. I had about 10-15 regular students. I also have a volunteer in this class that I adore and couldn't teach the class without him. I am a better teacher with him around. Now I don't think I could teach without him.

This student is in my ESL 5 class. This was the first certificate he ever got for anything - ever - in his life! He was SO proud of this certificate that he asked to take a picture with me. 

This is the class I teach through the school district. They are parents (and one grandparent) of the students at the elementary school where we meet. This is a Beginning English class. I think maybe I learned more Spanish in this class than they learned English. :) I usually had 4 Burmese students and 4-5 Spanish students. This is our end of the year party. One of my students still came every week even though she has cancer and is undergoing chemo. I know I wouldn't have dedication like that.

This is my Saturday class...the one that started it all. I love these women! Several people were not able to make it the day we took this picture, but these are my dedicated ones. One of these ladies would not say a word for the first couple weeks of class. She just sat there silent. Now, she is speaking and writing and understanding English better and is so proud of herself - as I am of her! It just warms your heart to hear their stories, struggles and successes. I learn so much from my students. I'm so lucky to have this amazing job!

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