My name is Jenny Handley and I am an 8th grade Science and Middle School English Language Learners (ELL) teacher in Williston, Florida. I have been teaching in Williston for seven years and love the opportunity that working in a small, rural community provides to really make an impact on students’ lives through building close relationships with them. It is my goal to help these students recognize their potential and strive to go on and do "big things," regardless of their background.
Williston prides itself as a hardworking agricultural town, specializing in peanut and hay production, as well as a copiousness amounts of equestrian farms. Many students come from low socioeconomic backgrounds in which technology and other resources are extremely limited. It is not uncommon to find students at the local McDonald’s working on school assignments, because this is the only place in which internet is available. I believe it is because of these circumstances that our students place such a strong emphasis on obtaining a good education and recognize the abundance of prospects that can stem from obtaining a high school diploma.
One policy change that could help the ELL's in my school and the community is having a Lead ELL teacher at every school in the district. Levy County currently has about 400 identified ELL students, and this population continues to grow rapidly, as students from all over the globe are uprooted from their home countries and enrolled in our schools to receive an education. These children need the support of a teacher that can push into the classrooms with them and assist both the student and the teachers in providing and implementing accommodations. They need a class in which the primary focus is on cultural immersion, customs, and speaking. They need a teacher that can sit down with them to explicitly teach them English, and, most importantly, they need a haven in which they feel comfortable expressing their fears and concerns as they try and navigate through their new life in the United States.
We invite to visit the I Am a Rural Teacher national campaign website!