39Reasons: Reason 21 Shy

This story is among the #39Reasons I am running as a Trustee for Vancouver School Board (VSB). Each story is based on my experience working at the VSB for over 7 years.

She was the quiet one in class and in a room of 30, her silence was mistaken as compliance, comfort, and understanding

Her attendance was flawless and she was a favourite among educators

It was the result of her ELL test, it wasn’t positive and she was taking this same class for the 3rdtime

“What am I doing wrong?”

She didn’t know what she was doing wrong or how to improve

She hid behind her poker straight hair that reached to her waist like a sheet of silky fabric

She wouldn’t dare ask the teacher why she wasn’t getting a pass, she put her head down and did her best to follow instructions, perform and show she was learning, but the test results showed otherwise

I was asked to connect with her so I caught her during the lunch break

She was kind and willing to talk, I learned that she wants to work with children, she likes teaching and enjoys organizing things

We talked some more and came up with an opportunity to work with children in her community, she had ideas for games and wanted to share them

We worked together to bring this group of children together and within 1 month, she had enough games and activities to engage the group for a year

I was excited and she was excited

She recruited six others from her high school to help and they had ideas too

Together, they shared their plan with a principal and off they went

We made a weekly plan to meet after school and we would walk over with materials for games and activities

There she got to share her first language with students who were also shy to speak in English or their first languages at school, at least until they met her

She was cool, she was approving with her use of her first language, she brought games from her childhood that encouraged them to share games of their own

They played so hard, bouncing between the basketball court, playground, stairs, and classroom

They barely noticed when their parents arrived to collect them at 5pm

She brought something special, she brought her whole self, her identity, her experience, and her passion to school

While her tests couldn’t illustrate it, her actions did and she was navigating a multi-lingual world with grace and humility

She was proud of herself and gained her voice in that classroom and when she did she was able to ask about her grades, how she can improve and found out more about herself and where she needed to be relative to where she was at

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