CONCORD- Emily Francis, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at W. M. Irvin Elementary School, was named Cabarrus County Schools (CCS) Teacher of the Year in a ceremony on Thursday, May 5 at the Cabarrus Arts Council’s Davis Theater.

Francis began her career with CCS in 2004 as a teacher assistant. That experience, combined with her personal experience of moving to the United States from Guatemala when she was 15, inspired her to become an ESL educator.

Since 2004, Francis has earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as a graduate certificate in teaching ESL from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. In 2012, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a teacher when she started her teaching career at W.M. Irvin.

As an ESL teacher, Francis says her primary goal is to teach English to students whose dominant form of communication is in a language other than English.

Not only does she teach her students, she also serves as a liaison and advocate for her students and their families. She conducts quarterly meetings with families to share information about how parents can help support the linguistic, academic, social and cultural development of their child.

She also conducts workshops for staff members at W.M. Irvin Elementary that are designed to help teachers close the cultural gap that exists between staff members and language learners. These workshops provide teachers with the appropriate tools to support ESL students.

Francis believes that the rewards in teaching are countless. “Although students’ academic success is our objective, our ultimate goal is to inspire our students to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.”

“To see our students succeed in life is by far the greatest joy and reward any educator can have,” she said.

Other finalists for Teacher of the Year were:

• Tina Platek – Jay M. Robinson High School

• Stephen Platt – J.N. Fries Magnet School

• Chase Tinnel – Hickory Ridge Middle School

• Lori Treiber – Central Cabarrus High School

The competition began with nominations from each school within the district. A selection committee interviewed each nominee, and selected the five finalists, who were observed in their classrooms.

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