Elementary, middle and high school students in the Hicksville School District welcomed a special visitor as part of their recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15). Teacher, author, speaker and overall changemaker Astrid “Emily” Francis visited with English language learners at Old Country Road School and Hicksville Middle and High schools to share her experiences of coming to America from Guatemala, assimilating to the culture, learning the language and carving out a successful career.
When she’s not teaching English as a Second Langue at Concord High School in North Carolina, Francis makes her way to schools and other institutions throughout the country to share her story of perseverance and as she puts it “inspire students to dream more, learn more, do more and become more.!”
“My experience as an English language learner inspired me to become an ESL teacher,” said Francis. “I have a deep understanding of the challenges my students must overcome in order to find success.”
Francis herself overcame poverty, intermittent schooling early on, a dubious journey to the U.S. which included near deportation at customs and then overcoming the language barrier to build a successful career and a nurture a loving family. She tailored her Hicksville presentation to the different grade-level audiences, which included an informal Q&A with high school students.
In addition to connecting with students in Hicksville and around the country, Francis has appeared on “Ellen” and has been featured in “People.” She has also served as a professional development facilitator and in 2016 was named “Teacher of the Year “ by the Cabarrus County Board of Education.