Three years ago, Adivis left the home she had always known in the Dominican Republic and moved to America. Even though she had taken some English classes in the Dominican Republic, when she came to the United States, she was unable to understand most academic instruction.
“I was so frustrated with everything because I couldn’t understand,” said Adivis. “I had a moment where I broke down in class. I couldn’t stop crying.”
Adivis wanted so badly to be able to understand her teachers, complete her homework, and make friends by speaking in English. Each day coming to school and going to classes felt like a struggle.
After transferring to Freedom Prep High (FPH) from a different school, Adivis’ FPH teachers transformed her school experience by helping her become the fluent English speaker she is today. They helped her learn the English language and accommodated her school work so that she could still participate in a meaningful way.
“Freedom Prep had all of this amazing help for me,” said Adivis. “[FPH] had tutoring. [FPH] had teachers who told me, if you don’t understand something [and] you don’t know how to say it in English, write it in Spanish, and I’ll translate it later.”
Teachers like Ms. Clark made a profound impact on Adivis’ progress. She tutored Adivis after school and would read the novels assigned in class word by word with her. She also took the time to help Adivis learn the rules and systems of the school that she was unfamiliar with, like demerits.
“[Ms. Clark was] the teacher I felt most secure with and was going to help me with everything,” said Adivis. “Even if the thing I was struggling with at the time wasn’t in her field, I would just go to her because I felt comfortable with her.”
Now, three years later, Adivis can read and write in both English and Spanish. This has driven her to take on new leadership roles, including on her school’s international trip to Ecuador.
“[In Ecuador] I not only understood the Spanish language, but I was [also] able to translate from Spanish to English for my friends and English to Spanish for the kids,” said Adivis. “That really showed how much progress I made. It made me feel special. It just made me feel of help and use.”
She has also been able to use her new skills at home.
“I am really really proud because I cannot only be who I really am at school, but I can also help my mom,” said Adivis. “It was easier for me to learn the language, and she still struggles with it, but I know that I can help her. It makes me feel good.”
She plans to attend the University of California at Los Angeles Medical School. As a doctor she wants to use her biliteracy for the benefit of her patients.
“I know I may have patients that feel scared and think, ‘I speak Spanish and I don’t understand English. Is my doctor going to be able to get me the things I really need?’” said Adivis. “When those patients come to me, they will find a space where they feel comfortable and where they have a doctor they can relate to.”
Adivis believes that bilingual teachers should come teach at her school because they can play a huge role in the lives of scholars like her.
“The reason I think a Spanish speaking teacher should come teach at Freedom Prep is because students like me need someone that they can relate to,” said Adivis. “If we started to have more Spanish-speaking teachers in our school, it would be so much better for students. Our community would be stronger.”
Are you passionate about helping scholars like Adivis? Democracy Prep is looking for great bilingual teachers who can support scholars like Adivis on the road to college. Apply to be a Democracy Prep high school bilingual teacher here and an elementary school bilingual teacher here. To learn more about Democracy Prep, click here.