Lead The Way | Miss Gabby 4th Grade Teacher
In the very hot Honduran August of 2018, I became “Miss Gabby.” I came to Honduras with the expectation that life would be hard, days would be long, and teaching, especially for someone like me with no classroom experience, would be challenging. I had been a student, essentially, my whole life and had never expected to hold a teaching position. My class and I have come a long way since that first day in August.
I met the beginning of the year with determination. The first few weeks were difficult, and there were times I felt completely inadequate, but I worked relentlessly to find the best materials and the most fun activities. Eventually, with a lot of hard work, I found myself genuinely enjoying my lessons. The more comfortable and excited I felt teaching a lesson, the more interested and invested the students became. It began to not feel as though every day was a challenge. We were all able to come to class and have fun. We read two novels: “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and “The Witches,” worked on topics in math beyond the 4th grade level, improved and lengthened our writing greatly, learned all about the weather, the water cycle and the solar system in science, and were all really excited to be together learning everyday.
I have never felt as inspired as I have by my 25 bright, kind, and funny 4th graders. We have learned, laughed, and (of course) played a lot of soccer this year. My favorite part of every day was watching those smiling faces shuffle in and greet me with a high five or a hug every morning at 7:30 am. We’ve celebrated so many victories such as cheering for correct answers, dancing after getting a good grade, laughing as we share our lunches, and chanting for every goal scored on and off the soccer field. We’ve celebrated holidays with acto – civicos, where students expressed themselves through song, dance, and drama. We’ve celebrated birthdays, endings, and beginnings of partials, meeting behavior goals, 100th day of school, and earth day. Sometimes we celebrated just because by playing quick, silly games between classes.
I celebrated each and every one of my students. Their determination surprised and delighted me daily. Quiet, shy students became classroom leaders. Outgoing students began to help others, academically and socially. Students that found it hard to focus, worked with me to figure out a system for completing their work. Students falling behind for various reasons, eagerly stayed after school to get extra help (and extra hugs). Together, we met every challenge with a solution.
In just a year, I have seen this class grow in ways I never could have expected. I cannot wait to see the progress another year will bring, and how much improvement will occur in the years to come. The impact that my students, and all students at VSBS, are likely to make brings me the most joy and hope for the future.
In retrospect, I think I will always be surprised how comfortable and at home I felt in this beautiful country, and in this challenging position. My house felt like a safe, happy place. I felt ownership and comfortability in my classroom. My roommates and co-teachers who were once strangers, became close friends. The baleada place across from the office became a regular eating spot. Seeing someone I know on the quick walk to the grocery store became inevitable. Buying a slice of pineapple or watermelon on the street became at least a weekly occurrence. Cafe and restaurant staff became kind, familiar faces. Lesson planning became second nature. Parents of students became daily sources of encouragement.
The whole team at the Villa Soleada Bilingual School became family. This year of great progress would not have been half as fruitful without everyone at VSBS. This includes parents, community members, and SHH staff. It really takes a village, and I’m proud to say the future of Villa Soleada and Honduras is in the best hands with each and every one of these students leading the way.