Their Courage: My Why

By Stella Villalba, ELL Teacher & Coach, Lead Ambassador, New Albany, OH: 


One of my ELL students stopped by my classroom in the middle of the day. He looked at me sadly and asked me in Spanish if he could just chill in my room for a couple of minutes. “Yes, of course,” I told him. He went to one of the tables and put his head down. I left him alone for several minutes, then went up to him, patted his back, and asked if I could do anything to help. He said, “Not really, Miss Villalba. It’s just hard. In my country I was an A+ student. I can’t even ask someone to play with me here. This life is hard.” I will never forget the hurt in his eyes. It reflected the daily, silent struggles that new ELLs go through in this country when they arrive. Their courage gives me the courage to be a strong educator for them. Their motivation to learn and to be successful individuals has become my WHY.