Off to the Grand Canyon and The Great Wall of China with Northwest Students
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
MAY 16, 2018 – When Jamiya Yates was a student at Northwest Middle School, she would participate in the Authors’ Tea that teacher Lisa Davis Bailey organizes each year for her students.
Now that Yates is a student at North Forsyth High, she comes back each year to support Bailey by attending the tea.
Bailey is an Exceptional Children (EC) resource teacher who works with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders on English and math. She has been holding a tea each year since she came to Northwest in 2000.
One of Bailey’s goals is to make students feel more confident. The tea serves to do that, to strengthen connections with parents and other members of the community, and “to make students feel special.”
To prepare for the tea, she asks students do research on a topic, such as Marie Curie or the Great Wall of China. Students then write about what they have learned and create a book to go with it. They also write a poem about themselves.
At the tea, they present their poem and talk about what they have learned.
Doing that each year helped Yates become more comfortable speaking in front of people, and she wants to support Bailey as she works to help other students. Yates was there with her guardian, Lee Blakney.
“Miss Bailey took an interest in her so we support her,” Blakney said.
A lot of people believe in supporting Bailey.
This year, Northwest teacher Mary Griffith took a leave day so she could devote the day to helping Bailey.
Ann Niten, who is retired from her job as the financial secretary at Northwest, continues to come back each year for the tea.
“She is very special to me,” Niten said.
Eloise Brown, who was Bailey’s Spanish teacher when she went to North Forsyth High, was there. So was the Rev. T. Welch, one of the ministers at Bailey’s church – First Baptist in Stanleyville.
Everyone wants to support the students as well. Linda Smith, a long-time friend of Bailey, likes that the day gives students “their day to shine.”
The audience included many parents and other family members. Eight-grader Zoe Fallot’s mother, Alicia, was there with Zoe’s three-year-old brother, Zeke, and a friend from church, Katrina Hughes.
Glenn Williams had taken time off from his job with Forsyth County to be there to support his son, Alamo Williams, who is in the seventh grade.
Kelly Cason was there – along with her older two sons and husband – to support her son, Gabriel Johnson, who is in the seventh grade.
It’s an awesome event, she said. “You give the kids the confidence to speak to their peers and others. It motivates them to work hard. It encourages them to dress up and take the day seriously.”
“I am very proud of him.”
Principal Freda Smith and other members of the Northwest staff were there, too, along with a number of people based in the school system’s Central Office.
Many of the people who come bring food. So, each year, there is quite a spread for the reception. This year, Niten had made pineapple cake.
Eighth-graders Kevin Henriquez-Leal and Kip Reese had come into the media center early to help with the preparations.
Kevin was going to be talking about the 1963 March on Washington during which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. This was his third year to participate, and definitely felt more comfortable than he did as a sixth-grader.
Kip was going to be talking about D-Day. He, too, had grown more confident over the years. Kip had chosen a military topic because he likes learning more about that subject. He is considering joining a branch of the service in the future.
When it was time for the presentations, the students stepped up alphabetical order. First up was Isaiah Branson, who talked about Mount Everest. After doing his research, he would like to climb the mountain one day.
After Daniel Guerrero-Trejo’s presentation on The Great Wall of China, Bailey said that is a place she would like to visit one day.
As it happens, two students were out that day. The students who spoke – or who would have spoken if they were at school – were:
Brielle Craver (absent)
Omar Martinez (absent)
Said Sorrosa Colon