If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher by Emily Francis- An interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito
Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15. It is a great time to learn more about the diversity of Hispanic and Latina experiences and cultures LINK. It is serendipitous that I was able to interview an up-and-coming Latina author about her new book, If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher. The book is by Emily Francis. During the interview, Emily’s love of teaching and of, her students and her culture shine through. This book is a must-read for teachers and students alike. Here is a little bit of background about Emily:
Emily was born in Guatemala and came to the U.S.A. at the age of 15. As we read the book, we find out how Emily overcame the struggles of being an immigrant who at first spoke no English at all and how she became the person she is today. She is now married, a mother of two, and most of all, a teacher who cares deeply about her students. The depth of her caring is clearly demonstrated in her appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show (see the links later on in this blog). Emily is currently an ESL teacher at Concord High School in Concord, North Carolina. Emily reports that her experience as an English language learner has given her a deep understanding of the challenges her current students must overcome to succeed. Her motto and focus are to INSPIRE students to “dream more, learn more and become more.” Her book takes the format of a series of letters written by her to her students. The letters are inspirational. As you listen to the interview, please notice what she says about what her students learn from her story. Also, notice what she reports she has learned from theirs. The student quote I found the most compelling was, “My parents crossed the border so I could cross the stage.” There are many such inspirational stories in the book. Here is a link to the book. LINK.
What follows now are some time-stamped highlights from the interview and a link to the YouTube video of the interview:
Here is the interview as it appears on my YouTube channel:
Picture: Emily’s students
Other links about Emily:
Link to YouTube video about Emily, produced by WFAE 90.6 Charlotte LINK
Link to Emily’s appearance on Ellen Degeneres Show, including fellow immigrant Hamdy Ulukaya – founder and CEO of Chobani, donating $100,000 to her school’s backpack program. LINK
Link to Emily’s blog entry about her appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show LINK.
Link to Emily’s Blog LINK.
Link to Emily’s future presentations LINK
My Reflections about this book. This interview comes on the heels of my interview with Tim Rasinski and friends about their book Artfully Teaching the Science of Reading. One of the key things they talked about was motivation. This book provides that for readers, especially those who are also ESL students. As Emily’s motto says she wants to help her students “dream more, learn more and become more.” What strikes me most about Emily is how she uses her own success as a model for her students with her main focus being to help them. View the Ellen Degnus show clip and her blog entry about that event as evidence of the power of the motivation she inspires.
Emily is a model teacher. She says the important first step she takes as a teacher is to really get to know her students before she tries to teach them As a matter of fact that was her key advice to beginning teachers. I advise all teachers to follow Emily’s example and not leave that step out.
I predict that teachers looking for a good book to use with their students, especially their ESL students, will find that this book is an excellent choice. I highly recommend its adoption and use.
Dr. B’s Future Blogs
As I mentioned last week, I had a long and productive conversation with Eric Litwin. He is an amazing author of children’s books (think Pete the Cat) and an expert in literacy for the youngest child. He is also the author of the book The Power of Joyful Reading. I hope to talk to him soon about his upcoming appearance at The Conference on the Young Years (CYY). The conference will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. It is sponsored by DESE (Missouri Department of Education). The conference will be held March 9 – 11, 2023, at the Tan-Tar-A Conference Center in Osage Beach, Missouri. Osage Beach is centrally located and easily assessable to folks from around the country. Here is a link to information about the conference LINK.
Also, in the month of October, the next edition of The Missouri Reader is coming out. It includes articles by Laura Robb and Timothy Shanahan. You won’t want to miss that one!. I have an article I co-authored coming out in Literacy Today. It is about using music to help teach reading. I’ll be blogging about both of those things. In addition, I am continuing to line up interviews with other literacy authors. So stay tuned- lots of good things coming up!
Happy Reading and Writing.
Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching
Interview copyright 2022 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the author’s views and do not necessarily reflect any other person or organization’s views.
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