Brianna’s Story

July 26, 2017 Lisa Carter

Brianna came to CFNC speaking little to no English, but she is working closely with her teacher to grasp the English language and be ready for the public school system. One day in March, a volunteer came in to read a story to Brianna’s class. The volunteer sat on the rug with the students, and showed them all the illustrations. “Have you ever seen this before,” he asked Brianna, showing her an illustration of a man wearing a hat. Brianna didn’t respond, but that doesn’t mean her brain’s wheels weren’t turning. You could tell just by looking at her that she was thinking very hard. Just as the volunteer was about to ask another student, Brianna said “my dad has a hat like that!”

Brianna’s a very bright girl, but with English as her second language, she sometimes takes a few extra moments to answer a question. “She’s translating in her head,” her teacher said. Brianna’s teachers understand that just because she takes a few seconds longer to answer, or is sometimes looking for the word, does not mean that she doesn’t know it.

CFNC teachers work extremely hard with ELL students like Brianna. Their patience gives the children a safe space to process the language, take their time, and make mistakes. CFNC teacher create safe spaces for students like Brianna to learn. Without CFNC, Brianna may not have developed the English language skills she needed to be successful in kindergarten.
While Brianna’s teachers work closely with her each and every day, Brianna’s social worker also provides family support.

Brianna lives her father in a one bedroom apartment – her parents are separated. Both Brianna’s parents are young (in their mid-twenties), and Brianna does visit her mother from time to time. Her family is from El Salvador, and her father speaks English well. He has a construction job in Maryland, but his hours are often inconsistent and long, so Brianna’s grandpa is the one who picks her up and drops her off at school each day. However when it rains or snows, her father usually doesn’t have work, and therefore doesn’t get paid.

Like every father, Brianna’s father wants the best for her. When Brianna’s social worker visits the home, she works with him on parenting skills and strategies specific to raising a little girl. For example, even just teaching him how to brush her hair when she gets out of the shower. The simple things that many men wouldn’t know about raising a little girl, CFNC is there to help him with.

Had Brianna been to another preschool, or worse even no preschool at all, Brianna may not have had the safe space to practice English, or a patient teacher to foster her growth. Her father would not have had the support of a social worker to give him the skills he needs to raise a little girl.