Written by Anne Garbarino in collaboration with Katie Fowler
Amy naturally possesses a seemingly unending well of patience and love. She radiates a calm and positive, can-do attitude and transfers her warmth to her students every day. She is their guide, providing the structure and routine needed to see and understand the sort of incremental growth needed for the change we expect to see from newcomer students with limited and interrupted schooling. It’s no wonder that her students find such success in their first year here. They are loved, mothered, and firmly, yet gently, held accountable.
But to say she is a natural should by no means minimize the years of hard work she has put into her role and the institution that is the Newcomer Classroom. Building a community that unites, differentiates, celebrates, and motivates each student as a whole person, and yet still remains organic and flexible, is an incredible feat. And she has rebuilt that community each and every year, so beautifully, using the academic and social-emotional curriculum she’s adapted and created over the years. As any teacher colleague who has attended a professional training with Amy knows, you will be having a laugh over lunch about how ridiculous it is to think that she could transfer any of what was just learned directly to her Form 1 class. Yet, passing through the classroom later in the semester, the central core of whatever best practice was learned will be evident. It will just be simplified, and scaffolded, and adapted to her unique class.
Amy’s strong sense of community and love goes even beyond the classroom. She has centered her life in the refugee community of Clarkston where she lives with her husband and one-year old son. Because she is rooted in so many aspects of our students’ lives as a teacher and neighbor, and for some as a GVP mentor and faith community member, she has formed a special lasting bond with students and their families. It is our hope that her commitment is a strong predictor that her relationship with GVP will also continue in an evolving role as a mentor, partner, and volunteer.
And she has not done it alone. She will be the first to highlight the roles of her volunteers, co-teachers, interns, and other supporters. But she is the one who has led us and modeled for us what she knows to work. She has organized us to maximize our role in helping the Form 1 students shine. For that, I’m sure, we are all deeply grateful.
Thank you Ms Amy! Good luck in your future endeavors. We know you will stay in touch!