There’s something special about people who smile when it’s raining. And rain couldn’t stop the Alabaster ESOL Class from going out with a bang! Each year the class ends the spring term with a well-planned celebration and awards ceremony where learners are congratulated for their hard work during the year. Awards Day marks the achievement of a long-term goal of learning English for many non-English speaking adults in Shelby County. It is a time when their families can also come and celebrate along with them. It is truly a remarkable event that not only highlights the accomplishments of the learners, but also reflects the dedication of their very special teachers, Dr. Karen Day and Dr. Harrell Day-affectionately known as “Miss Karen” and “Mr. Harrell.”
After much anticipation, Awards Day finally arrived last week. The students came by the dozens with dishes of ethnic food in hand and little ones in tow. Their cameras, phones and tablets were fully charged and ready to record the events of their very special day. The kids were eager to run and play at the beautiful Veteran’s Park, and everyone was ready to dig in and enjoy a delicious meal together. Then it rained. And rained. And rained some more.
Although disappointed by the weather, nothing could quell the excitement of the day. The group simply moved everything indoors and carried on with the festivities. There was such a feeling of pride in the air that no one seemed to mind the rain that much. For some, it was the beginning of a brief pause in their learning until fall classes resume. For others, it was a graduation of sorts-a stepping stone to the next level in their journey. For all, it was a time to celebrate accomplishing an important goal learning English.
The awards ceremony was probably my favorite part of the celebration. Miss Karen had something wonderful to say about each one of the students as they, along with their families, went up to receive their certificates. I could tell that it was much more than an individual accomplishment for some-especially the mom of six and the young woman who recently passed her U.S. Citizenship test. It was all about family, and family is important to The Literacy Council.
Teaching this group for part of the spring term has been an amazing experience! They, like all of our English language learners inspire me in many ways. I love interacting with students, learning about their wonderful and unique cultures and helping them achieve their goals. I am equally proud of all of our amazing tutors, who selflessly give so much to help so many. TLC is indeed blessed because of them.
-Stephanie Lyas, Volunteer Coordinator