Freedom Center Trip Impacts Adena ESL Students

Trip to Freedom Center Has Big Impact on Adena ESL Students
Posted on 05/31/2018
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photo of Adena ESL students on field trip“Our recent field trip to the Freedom Center was simply one of the best days ever,” said Adena Elementary ESL specialist Helen Vassiliou.

Last week, she took 25 English language learners in grades 4-6 on the trip to cap off their yearlong studies about the ideals of courage, perseverance, and the importance of helping others as leadership qualities. 

The students read texts, articles, watched video clips, looked at and analyzed primary sources from the Library of Congress' archived materials to gather information about people who lived with a purpose and demonstrated leadership skills. This gave Vassiliou’s diverse learners the experience of knowing about people who were courageous amidst the hardships of life, so that they could internalize their strength to preserve themselves in all they face in our schools, at home, and in our country.

The learning experience showed them what it meant for so many wanting freedom -- “not that different from the immigrant experience today,” one student said.

“I wanted to take my students to the Freedom Center for more than the selfish reason of making their learning come to life in a place that stands for everything they learned about. It was also about getting them to leave their neighborhoods and see a museum,” said Vassiliou. “I want our ESL program to be more than just intervention, but also a safe place for learning, thinking, problem-solving and innovation. I want to show that our diverse learners are special and worthy of having advanced experiences that shape them and change their thinking.”

Vassiliou and her students are grateful for those in the Lakota community who supported their learning this year. Throughout the year, local churches and organizations and many Lakota staff members helped get what she needed for her students. Special thanks go out to Superintendent Matthew Miller, Community Outreach Coordinator Angie Brown (who worked with the group throughout the year and helped get a grant so that the students could take the field trip), Chief Operating Office Chris Passarge, and Adena Principal John Mattingly (who surprised the students and joined them on the trip).

“The tremendous support we received gave our program and our diverse learners validation,” said Vassiliou. “We need to keep providing all kids with enrichment experiences, no matter what their skill sets are. We impacted 25 kids yesterday who had never even heard of the stories of people that helped pave the road for them to be free.”

The impact on the students was evident. There was a student who cried during part of a film at the Freedom Center. She couldn’t believe that people were not treated equally. Vasilliou had to comfort her in the power of her future to stand up against inequality. The student smiled and said, “Well, you know I will.”

During the tour, a couple of fourth grade students latched on to the quote by Harriet Tubman that read, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” One girl said, “Well, that’s what it means to be an Adena ALL Star, right Ms. V?”

Photo: If you look closely, you can see Adena ESL students holding a sign thanking Lakota for supporting them this year and for the opportunity to tour the Freedom Center to extend their learning.