Hill helps ESL students improve their English skills.
photo Julia Grossman

Culture is believed to be the heart and soul of a person. It makes them an individual. Godwin High School has over 2,000 students enrolled, and each student that walks through the double doors in the morning carries with them his or her own culture and story.

Godwin’s English as a Second Language Program (ESL) helps students who are not fluent in English learn to speak, write, and express themselves in the English language. ESL teacher Robert Hill spends time with these students daily, improving their skills.

“I have a fantastic group of kids from all over the world. I have students from everywhere from China, to Brazil, to Thailand, to Turkey. They all have such amazing things to share, and I enjoy working with them everyday,” said Hill.

Students currently enrolled in ESL have embarked on a new project that allows them to share their individual cultures among the teachers and staff at school.

The students have begun distributing a newsletter to the Godwin staff, an idea that originated from Assistant Principal Mindy Guyer and was carried out by Hill and his ESL students.

“The reason we started the newsletter is that we wanted students to be able to share their stories and in turn, create a better connection between them and their teachers. All-in-all, we wanted to continue in making Godwin a more inclusive place,” said Hill.

The newsletter is scheduled to be distributed to the Godwin staff once a month. The first issue was released in November.

Hill hopes that by sharing his students’ stories with the Godwin staff, both the staff and ESL students will have a stronger understanding between one another, which will lead to stronger engagement and success for ESL students in the classroom.

Not only is the ESL newsletter improving relations between ESL students and their various teachers, but it is also improving the students’ experiences in the classroom.

In the making of the newsletter, the students are able to improve their skills in English writing as well as their skills with using computer programs and software. They also grow closer to one another by collaborating in the completion of the publication.

However, Hill was surprised to learn something new about his students in the process of beginning this publication.

“I really thought they would be more hesitant to do this, but they were really excited. I was so glad to see that they were so eager to share their stories and their cultures, and I think they, both as individuals and as a group, have gained confidence from it all,” said Hill.

For the future, Hill and the ESL students are considering releasing the newsletter to the student body and look forward to putting out the publication on a regular basis.

“We live in a multicultural society, and this is an excellent way for other people to gain an understanding of different cultures and backgrounds. It is so important for society to build a greater sense of respect and understanding of various cultures,” said Hill.

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©2018 Eagles' Eyrie - the school newspaper for Mills E. Godwin High School in Henrico, VA

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