ESL teacher says ‘It’s not a job’


Foley, Ala. (WKRG) — Believe it or not, 44 percent of the students at Mathis Elementary are primarily Spanish speakers. That’s 91 students that Elena Smith and two others teach each day. That’s why Smith is this week’s Golden Apple Award winner.

She said, “And you know what, it’s not even a job. I love it and I feel like you love me.”

And they really do. Smith has been teaching English as a second language for nine years at Mathis. One of her co-workers nominated her for the Golden Apple

Emily Rankin told us, “I feel confident teaching my ESL kids because she is there for me and she helps me, and I feel like I’m doing what’s best for them.”

Smith told us she does find that the job she says is not a job is sometimes difficult.

“There are just not enough hours in the day to be able to help our kids the way that we should be able to help them.”

And she’s a straight shooter.  With the covid pandemic and spans of virtual learning for some, she knows full well some kids will fall behind.
“Yes, it’s true,” said Smith. “I wish we could say everything is great, but yes, if our kids are not here, if we are not here with them it’s just tougher.”

But Smith is working extra hard to make sure students get caught up and move forward. Our congratulations to Elena Smith and Mathis Elementary for a job well done.

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