At Sequoyah Elementary, more than half of the students speak little to no English. To help these students succeed at the highest level, the English Language Development (ELD) team is in place.
The Sequoyah ELD team consists of four teachers; Misty Mossa, Tandra Morris, Natalie Donaldson, and Diane Fowler. This team serves 272 students at Sequoyah classified as English Language Learners. Of those students, eight of them classify as newcomers. Newcomers are students who have been in the United States for two years or less.
There is a significant focus on support for these newcomers as they typically need the most help. Not only are they learning the curriculum, but they are also learning English and American culture.
"At Sequoyah, we believe that building healthy relationships with our students and families will not only benefit the student but also their long-term success at TPS. With this goal in mind, we never pass on an opportunity to teach our students about U.S holidays and traditions or social etiquette. We want our students to feel welcomed, to know that they do belong, and most importantly, to know that we're here for them," said Diane Fowler.
Diane was an immigrant student here in America and now serves as a teacher and translator for Sequoyah. She remembers what it felt like to be young in a new country and attempting to learn the culture and language.
"I think it's something people tend to overlook. We're so busy teaching them language, but we also have to educate and teach them the culture," said Diane.
During Halloween, Sequoyah students were all dressed in costumes, and one of the newcomer students asked why. That simple question inspired the ELD Department to step out of the box and show the newcomers what American holidays are and explain their meanings.
They taught the students to trick or treat and how to be safe while doing it. They even had the students practice at school.
For Thanksgiving, the team decided to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal for the students. The ELD team served the students chicken, dressing, potatoes, green beans, and rolls followed by the student's choice of apple, pumpkin, or cherry pie. Before the meal, the ELDs explained the history and meaning of the holiday in America. The students, staff, and even Principal Nero all had the chance to share why they were grateful.
At first, the students were hesitant to try anything other than the chicken. But with a little encouragement from the teachers, they begin to try to different dishes and found themselves going back for more.
"The thing I like most about Thanksgiving is being with my friends, family, and teachers. My friends think of me like their brother," said Sequoyah student Dariel.
Dariel is a 4th-grade student from Honduras. He and his family have been in America for about two years now. He has picked up the English language quickly and enjoys American history.
"What I find cool about America is the flag is it has 13 stripes which represent the original 13 colonies," said Dariel.
The ELD Team is hoping to host a Christmas celebration so the students can decorate a tree and open gifts.
Sequoyah is on a mission to make sure all of the English Learners feel welcomed and comfortable. They understand that it is essential to the students' development and ability to learn the curriculum.
Please use this link to learn more about Tulsa Public Schools' language and cultural services.