Working with children fosters appreciation for learning


art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi

Emily Franke

art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi
art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi
After a month of snow days and extended weekends, it is easy to fall into a slump, to lose motivation and slack off in my classes. I am burnt out. Lacrosse season and the promise of summer steal my focus, and my classes seem less interesting than they did in August.
Yet one class still brings a daily bout of inspiration and excitement.
Every other day, I spend my first hour at La Petite École, a French immersion school. For one hour, I speak French and work with children under five years old who come from English-speaking homes. This school is designed to immerse children in the French language and culture so they learn the language in the same way every child learns their first words. On the first day of school, few, if any, of the 10 kids knew any French. Now, each child can manage not only to form complete sentences but is also capable of reading new vocabulary and holding full conversations in French.
Even in my slump, these kids inspire me to enjoy the last year and a quarter of my high school education. They are just starting their career of learning.
Working at this great place has opened future options for me. I can see myself working with kids, working with a different language or even working with education in general. There, the kids inspire me to find my passion for learning for the sake of learning, working with them inspires me to apply what I’ve learned to other areas of my life.
As a musician, I have a passion for music similar to that of the people who run this school. For me, music is a language and it can be learned, understood and performed.
Recently, one teacher commented that the language is alive, that it grows as you learn it and that if you don’t try to improve it, you are not letting the language live. After hearing this, I realized music is alive as well. When you read an ancient piece, when you play music that was written a century ago, you are keeping someone else’s ideas alive. If I apply the educational values of LPÉ to music, I can envision myself teaching music someday.
Not only do I believe the school holds inspirational value, but I also believe the opportunity to take an internship class provides a chance at looking into a more vivid depiction of one’s future options. Volunteering at LPÉ has offered me the opportunity to experience the life of a teacher, work with children and work in an environment completely foreign to the American culture. With this new experience, I see the importance of opening my eyes and mind to all possible careers and paths for my future because you never know what you will find or how it will affect you.
School is often tedious and bogged down by grades and expectations. I appreciate the release this internship provided for the past year. With the pressures of school, it is difficult to see any real value in what I learn. However, working with these kids has opened my eyes to the reality that there is a joy in learning. When one little girl struggles over a set of letters for a few minutes, finally sounds out the word and suddenly realizes that she can read it out loud, her eyes light up and she smiles with pure delight, repeating what she has learned for her friends to hear because she is so proud. Even with grades and the importance of GPA, I can step back and consider what I am actually doing. I am learning, and that in itself is a reward.
By Emily Franke