"Children may forget what you say but they will always remember how you make them feel," is more than just a saying on the wall in Leonard and Paula Council's classroom at Washington High School. It's a statement that is true for many of the students who pass through the Counsil's classroom.
Leonard, a longtime coach (of nearly every sport) and teacher, retired a number of years ago but lends a hand (and many laughs) in Paula's English Language Learners (ELL) classroom, a room full of eager and appreciative students who don't speak English at all or only speak very little.
The journey into the world of ELL began over 20 years ago when Paula was asked to teach over two dozen students who didn't speak English at Lena Dunn Elementary. "And I didn't know Spanish," said Paula, a wide smile spreading across her face. "We didn't have all the resources then that we have today but we made it work."
For three years, Paula took Spanish classes at night and overtime, found ways to best suit the needs of her students. Looking around her classroom filled with photos, alphabet strips, colorful creations made by the students and a few beta fish, strategically placed on filled bookshelves, Paula's classroom is unlike most you'd find in a high school.
"We use a lot of pictures and signs and do a lot of drawings," she said. "We have some students who come here that don't speak any English at all and sometimes, especially now that we have Haitian, Burmese and other students from different countries too, they don't speak Spanish either. We do a lot of projects too to help our students remember different things."
Some of those projects include making woven creations to help member prepositions and other parts of speech.