Thanks to Teachers: Donetta Pedroza

Photo credit: WLOS Staff

"I am America. I am very caring. I am smart. I am a good reader," reads 7-year-old Maria.

At Nebo Elementary School, ESL Teacher Donetta Pedroza works with a small group of students who are first-generation Americans.

Ashton, Maria, David and Kelly write down what they are good at, record it, and top it off with a selfie. They end their stories with " Get used to me."

Ms. Pedroza points out "Get used to me" is an inspirational quote used by the late Muhammad Ali.

"It's basically kind of a bold saying, get used to me. This is what I have to offer you, and I'm here."

Pedroza, who splits her time between three McDowell County schools, says it's important for her students to focus on their strong points. .

"A lot of my students tend to be shy, the quiet majority in the classroom. I know they're speaking two languages. They're learning more academic language, and I'm interested in them knowing their strengths."

Kelly and Maria remember when understanding English was much harder.

"I didn't read that much because I didn't understand the big words, but now I understand a lot," says 9-year-old Kelly.

"When I was struggling on my math, I didn't know what to do, but then I got some help and I got better," says 7-year-old Maria.

Pedroza, a third-generation American, has been an ESL teacher in Mc Dowell County for five years.

Her great grandparents came to the US from Mexico.

"Because of their actions, I've been born here, and I feel privileged. And my grandparents, had to learn English, so, it's almost like I'm giving back for what they got to do," says Pedroza.