Classroom Spotlight: Miss Amelia

Why did you return to BECA and Amigos de Jesus for a 2nd year?
Ultimately what it came down to is that I didn’t feel “done” here. I still felt like, though I had learned and grown so much in my first year, that I hadn’t received or given everything I was meant to yet. Outside of professional and personal growth, I didn’t even feel like I was ready to leave the relationships I’ve begun to create here- in the school, hogar, and surrounding communities. In general, I think the first year of adjusting to ANY experience contains a good bit of doubt, confusion, and keeping your head above water. Even before my first year was over I just knew that with the year under my belt and a small break with friends and family, I could come back far more confident and prepared for what I was getting into, better equipped to serve my students, the school, and even the incoming volunteer community. I felt like a second year would offer a great opportunity to kind of know the ropes a bit better and feel more confidence in navigating this school and my role as a teacher. I guess there are a lot of reasons that all contribute to this feeling of: I’m just...not quite done here yet. I was just extremely confident in knowing that if BECA and ADJBS would have me for a 2nd year, I wanted to stay and continue to learn, grow, love, and share. I am SO thankful that I get to be here for a 2nd year!

What is your favorite part of the day or class to teach?
I really love teaching ELA! While I maintain the curriculum we’ve been given, I love to use ELA time to do other lessons a few times a week- such as SEL, Art, Music, or something specific to what is going on during that week. I love watching them make connections between materials, and grow in ability and confidence with maneuvering their English skills. ELA has so much room for games and community building and learning to truly THINK about the world around us and not just pass through it everyday. Even lunch time is ELA! I taught Prepa last year and recently sat with some of my class during lunch time- I couldn’t believe how eager they were to try and talk through our lunch time in ENGLISH. They love it, and I love watching how quickly the students gain confidence and skills in speaking a completely different language. It’s amazing to be a part of.

What is it like to teach at Amigos de Jesus Bilingual School?
Oh, wow. Where do I even begin? Teaching at ADJBS is exhilarating. Our school shares the property with our children’s home, farm, offices, chapel and 200 acres of gorgeous property. That in and of itself makes the experience unique. Sometimes our location offers the quiet, peacefulness of country living and other times the wild aspects- like opossums in the garbage can or a snake on the soccer field. One aspect that is unique about the teaching experience itself at ADJBS is the amount of volunteers- we have volunteers who serve the children’s home itself who take on additional roles in our school, Honduran volunteers who teach our classes in Spanish, and of course the BECA volunteers. Everywhere you turn there are young adults of all different backgrounds sharing in this common experience of volunteering in our school. One beautiful part of that experience is the monthly volunteer “convivencia.” We all get together and one volunteer group prepares a meal or snack and an activity for everyone to enjoy. Our amazing school director and the hogar Directors are passionate about bridging the gap between volunteer groups and using this experience not only as a place of professional growth but also personal growth- learning from and sharing in other cultures. Because of this, our school-wide culture is one of family, love, growth, and encouragement. This teacher mindset leaks into our classrooms and the overall vibe of ADJBS, students and teachers alike, is of joy, support, hope, and LOVE. Though everyday is a roller coaster of emotions- from classroom mishaps to impromptu obligations and an always changing schedule- the culture of love here makes everyday worth it.

What’s the funniest thing that a student has ever said?
The second week of school we were going over some new vocabulary words. One was “show.” A little girl brought her notebook so I could check her work, and she had spelled it “shwo.” I encouraged her to look at the board and spell the word for me from the board. She began to spell “s-h-o…..ohhhhhhh!” When she turned back to her notebook I asked “and what did YOU spell?” intending to have her spell “shwo” back to me. Instead, she looked at her word….thought for a moment, then turned to me and very seriously said “.......SHWAAAAAH.” I had to turn away I laughed so hard!

What have your students taught you this year?
Even though we’re only a month in, this class has already taught me the importance of consistency and fairness. At the beginning of the school year we created contracts for each other. We have “Our Classroom Promise” and “Our Teacher Promise.” One of the first days of school, 2nd grade was getting a little nuts and Miss Amelia got a little overwhelmed. I raised my voice and was very sharp with them. A little boy, mid-tirade, just quietly pointed to my Teacher Promise where I promised to “not get angry and yell at the friends” and that “when I mess up I will say I am sorry and try again.” WOW- talk about being h u m b l e d. I immediately took a breath, lowered my voice, and apologized for losing my cool. It led to a discussion on what to do when we’re overwhelmed/frustrated and even some accountability on their parts as I pointed to their contract as well. We all broke some expectations for our classroom that day, but we held each other accountable with love, learned from it, and moved on. Though I was frustrated in the moment, I look back in awe at that small but powerful lesson they taught me that day.

Where can you be found on a Saturday morning?
Oh, man. I LOVE Saturday mornings. I can be found somewhere in my Saturday routine of a long exercise video, BIG brunch, some organizing/cleaning, checking in with a friend from home, and watching a funny movie or TV show on my laptop. Saturdays are my 0 obligation days so having all the time in the world on a Saturday morning to really enjoy what I’m doing is my favorite part of a weekend!