Cedar Shoals Teacher, Clarke Central Student Earn ‘Exemplary’ Recognition from State
Cedar Shoals High School teacher Holly Ait and Clarke Central High School senior Daniela Delgado-Escalante were recognized recently by the Georgia Department of Education’s English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program.
Ms. Ait, who chairs Cedar Shoals’ ESOL department, was one of 38 teachers across the state to be named a 2022 Exemplary ESOL Teacher by GaDOE. She has taught at the school for eight years and said she has seen the ESOL program more than double the number of students it serves (from 67 her first year to a projected 165 next school year) and grow from two teachers to seven while expanding its support to students in 30 different classes across all content areas.
“I truly believe that the diversity of culture in this school is what makes it so special,” said Ms. Ait. “Although many of our English learners come from Central and South America, we do have others from all over the world! They are some of the most driven, hard-working students who bring a unique perspective to our student community. Our little department is growing bigger and brighter every day, thanks to our wonderful, highly-qualified teachers.”
A colleague who helped nominate Ms. Ait for the award wrote: “On their first day of high school in the United States, Holly is the first person a newcomer meets. She serves as “tia” or “auntie” the moment our students join our ESOL family. She is friendly, assuring, and ensures from day one that our students have the best experience possible at Cedar Shoals. She brings out the best in our students, whether it is their first day or their last week of high school. She sees them through the process from learning hello to donning the graduation gown. As ESOL department chair, she works hard to develop and foster healthy relationships with the schoolwide faculty as well as the administration that serves to form the important bonds the ESOL department needs to collaborate with content teachers and departments across the school. She is the best. She is invaluable to our students, our school, and our community. We are lucky to have her on our team and proud to teach alongside her each day.”
Meanwhile, Daniela Delgado-Escalante was named one of 31 Exemplary English Learner Students in Georgia. A dual enrollee at the University of Georgia with a 4.0 grade-point average, she has excelled academically during her four years at Clarke Central while also competing for the school’s cross country and track and field teams.
A teacher who nominated her for the award wrote: “Daniela has a fire inside of her that I do not get to witness in many students. As a freshman, she was new to our school and new to the English language. In less than three years in the United States, she gained enough proficiency in the English language to no longer need language support services. She even went on to become part of our student government team. As a junior, she applied for the Young Dawgs Academic Internship and was accepted for her senior year. Her tenacity creates a natural pathway for her success without compromising an ounce of kindness. Along with so many other assets, perseverance is a strong characteristic of her personality. She is a true inspiration.”