Starr’s Mill High’s Felipe Schwantes is a student who rises above any challenge. Schwantes is Fayette County’s 2021 Exemplary ESOL Student, and he nominated Valerie Hughey to receive the Exemplary ESOL Teacher recognition.
“Moving here to the United States without knowing how to speak English was hard. Not all teachers can understand the difficulties we have to go through, from trying to learn the language, to understanding and learning the material of the classes while still having the pressure of performing well in school,” said Felipe. “A teacher like Mrs. Hughey makes that transition way easier. She knows the struggles we have to go through and tries to minimize the language barrier we have to make this opportunity that we have better.”
Each year the Georgia Department of Education’s English Learner Language Program recognizes deserving ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) students and teachers from individual school districts across the state. These students have overcome language barriers and have excelled in academics, earning a 3.5 GPA or higher, while participating in extracurricular activities and supporting their community in various ways. The Exemplary ESOL Teacher Award is given to ESOL teachers statewide who were nominated by their school system’s ESOL coordinator because of the contribution they have made to Georgia’s ESOL community.