Mentor an ESOL Student


    Make a difference in a child's life!



    Yes, you CAN make a difference! Oftentimes, ESOL students face more challenges than most children. They need extra help because

    • They are learning a second language.
    • They are adjusting to a new culture.
    • They may not have opportunities to go to the library, etc.
    • They may be facing economic hardship.
    • They may have illiterate parents.

    If you are interested in mentoring or volunteering, please e-mail changs@leonschools.net or call (850) 488-2819. You will need to fill out forms and attend a Volunteer Orientation.


    Read below for some inspirational comments:


    Kelly Torres 2011--

    I currently serve as a volunteer for the ESOL program at Pineview. I initially began volunteering at Pineview to fulfill my service hour requirements to complete my graduate studies. Through this experience, I had the opportunity to be able to see first-hand the theories and ESOL applications that I learned throughout my academic experiences. As a result of the positive experiences I had during these service hours, I decided to continue volunteering at Pineview after graduation. It is such a rewarding feeling to see how much the students acquire each week, which motivates me to continue volunteering at the school.




    2004 My name is Elizabeth Ricci. 

    My family came to the U.S. from Italy in 1902 through Ellis Island. I practice immigration law with my husband, Neil Rambana. Neil is an immigrant from Jamaica. Through my work with immigrants, I was introduced to the ESOL program at Pineview. As a result, I now tutor Ronaldo Martin, a third grader there. Ronaldo is Mexican and Guatemalan. He and I both speak English and Spanish. Ronaldo and I work on improving his math, reading, and computer skills. I introduced him to a local soccer program and other fun activities. I have seen Ronaldo's grades and behavior improve as a result of our work together and I look forward to his continued improvement.



    My experience at Pineview Elementary School (2004)

    This year, I received a phone call from my teacher and nice friend, Maria, who told me about an Iranian family whose son was a student at Pineview Elementary School. The father worked as a researcher at the university and his child needed a mentor who also spoke their language.

    After that initial phone call, I received an e-mail from Mrs.Chang that indicated they had a new foreign student in fifth grade that needed help. I was surprised because I had never heard about a young student who spoke my language here in Tallahassee. I had been a teacher in my home country for many years and working with children was always enjoyable to me.

    Mrs.Chang asked if I would be interested in helping Sajjad. I was excited, but a little worried about whether I would be successful or not. After thinking about it, I decided to go ahead and e-mail Mrs. Chang telling her that I would like to come and help Sajjad.

    On Tuesday morning, I went to the school and met Mrs.Chang, the ESOL teacher there. Her class was wonderful. Sajjad was there and I said to him "hello", "how are you?", and "welcome" in our native language. I felt he looked happy and surprised because he never thought he would meet someone who spoke his own language at school.

    Mrs.Chang then introduced me to Mrs.Mosur, who was Sajjad's homeroom teacher. We talked about his schedule and I told them that I was ready to begin working with Sajjad. It was a great experience and my pleasure to meet all these nice children and go to the school every Tuesday to help Sajjad with mathematics and vocabulary development.

    At first, Sajjad was uncomfortable and unhappy because he did not have friends. He also had a problem understanding and speaking English. I tried to encourage him to make friends and talk to them. I explained that by trying, he would also be able to ask questions and communicate with his teachers and classmates.

    In the middle of the year, his performance in school was impressive. He was happy and feeling wonderful, and so were his teachers, parents, and friends. I was very happy too.

    The school principal and other teachers were nice and kind to me. Therefore, I would like to thank all of them for their hospitality (especially Mrs.Chang and Mrs. Musor.) Sajjad was successful by the end of the year and he left for his country with wonderful memories of his school experience at Pineview Elementary.

    I am happy and thankful that I had the opportunity to help Sajjad and be around the sweet children at Pineview Elementary, who remind me of my beloved students and wonderful colleagues in Iran. I will never forget them.



    Comments by Florida Secretary of Transportation Jose Abreu





    "I began mentoring through Governor Bush's mentoring initiative in the fall of 1999.  I started out visiting Ms. Chang's classroom on a weekly basis, interacting with students who were learning English as their second language.   Being a former ESOL student, I felt it important to reach out to students I could relate to.  In January 2000, I began to tutor these students on Saturdays.   In the past two years, I have seen these children grow immensely--in stature, in character, intellectually. Their families have become my family.

    This is truly one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.  I have never regretted it a day in my life."

    ---Martha Pratt



    "I started mentoring at Pineview Elementary late 2000 as part of the Governor's Mentoring Initiative.  Soon, that one hour a week turned into an additional two hours as I helped my friend, Martha Pratt, mentor ESOL students on the weekend.

    In addition to mentoring the students in academics, I have attended their birthday parties, taken them to the movies, cultural events and even played with them on the playground.

    Mentoring these kids is something I would not have thought of on my own to do--and my life and these kids lives are better for it."

    ---Katie Hahn

    Here is Ms. Hahn's article for the Department of Corrections:

           Correctional Compass
           Summer 2002

                                      My Mentoring Story: Flying High On Kids

           By Katie Hogan,
           Public Affairs, Central Office

     As much as we might hate to admit it, we often don't try new things unless someone else spurs us on. In my case I tried something new and it proved to be wonderful.

    I decided in late 2000 to be a mentor. I never dreamed when I was going to school that I would end up volunteering in one. Then Governor Bush started a mentoring initiative. This allows state employees to take one hour of administrative leave a week to mentor a child. That was the little nudge I needed to start mentoring.

     Instead of the traditional one-on-one mentoring, I decided to mentor in a classroom setting with elementary school children. This was a little less intimidating to me than the one-on-one approach.

     I started in a second and third grade class and the following school year I worked with kindergarten students of ESOL (English Students of Other Languages). There I helped students with schoolwork, read to them or did whatever activities the teacher needed done.

    It was amazing to come back to work and deal with such heavy issues as Corrections after working with children - it really put things in perspective. After a couple of visits, the children ran up and hugged me upon my arrival. This made me feel wanted and needed.

    My mentoring soon developed into a weekly Saturday activity with several children of families from the school. A friend and I would work with these children on various subjects to reinforce what they were learning in school. Most of these children were not failing in school, but they needed some positive reinforcement. What they needed was someone to show an interest in them - to be their friend, to be their mentor.

    The size of the group of children we mentor is usually five, but reached as high as ten at one time, ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. The material we used has ranged from website worksheets to schoolbooks from the local school depository. These weekend mentoring sessions were done at the library and we would incorporate social activities as rewards.

    Mentoring doesn't necessarily have to be all academics - it can be fun. Whatever activity you decide to do with a child is rewarding not only for the child but also for you.

    I have no children of my own, but working with these children has taught me some lessons that I hope to incorporate into my own family. From my experiences, I am surprised by the fact that children hear almost everything and are smarter and shrewder than we give them credit.

    The old saying that what you give you will get back has been true for me. For example, recently I was shocked when these children and their parents threw me a surprise birthday party.

    As I write this I am getting ready to have a wedding and move to upstate New York. One of my mentees is going to be the flower girl in my wedding. The children will miss me, but not as much as I will miss them. Mentoring is something I would not have thought of on my own to do - and my life and these children's lives are better for it.

    Consider being a mentor. You would be surprised what a difference one hour a week makes in a child's life. DOC employees interested in becoming a mentor, should contact DOC mentoring coordinators: Tim Mahler at 850-410-4415 (SC 210-4415) or Mac Crockett at 850-410-4420 (SC 210-4420). For more information on the Governor's Mentoring Initiative, call 1-800-825-3786 or visit www.flamentoring.org.

    Editor's note: We will miss Katie, who has served as the Compass copy editor. We wish her the best in her new life.


    "It has been a pleasure volunteering and doing research at Pineview
    Elementary's ESOL program over the past 4 years.  I praise the students for
    their hard work, Ms. Chang for her dedication and excellent teaching skills, the parents for
    supporting their children's language learning experience, and finally, the
    school's administration and teachers for embracing families from so many
    different cultures (therefore promoting cultural diversity and
    understanding), and for setting the standard when it comes to ESOL education
    in Leon County.  Remember kids:  "Knowledge is power!"  Keep up the good
    work... students, teachers, parents, and volunteers!  Together, we will make
    a difference!!


    Maria M. Samuel, M.S.
    Multilingual/Multicultural Ed.
    Florida State University

    I really enjoy working and helping Miguel, Daniel and their family. It's great watching them succeed and know that I had a part in that. It's also a pleasure working with the ESOL staff so that expectations and goals are always on target. It's the small things in life that we do that can make a difference in the life of someone else.

    Bridget Lopez
    FSU Student

    Well the first time I met Abelardo and Rosa was at Pineview during
    lunchtime. Abelardo seemed confused and speechless, while Rosa was a
    little more enthusiastic about meeting me. After that we meet every
    Monday or Wednesday at around 5p.m. We would always start with homework
    assignments. Abelardo usually had spelling homework while Rosa had Math
    homework. This worked out great because these were the subjects that they
    were both having problems in respectively. Also, they were both receiving
    much homework on writing for the FCAT.

    But aside from that we had a lot of fun together doing homework,
    playing around, and talking. We would always talk about everything from
    toys, to cars, to t.v shows. And after finishing their homework we would
    either read a book of their choice or play a game, like memory with
    cards. One time we went to the public library which was a lot of fun. So
    all in all, it was great time, though tutoring two children at once was
    sometimes a bit overwhelming.

    Michael Moreno
    FSU Student

    A dozen or so bright, enthusiastic kids, a video-camera, and an interesting partner and interviewee awaited me when I visited Ms. Sara Chang's English as a second language class at Tallahassee's Pineview Elementary School in January 2001.  I was there to help get started an exciting program Ms. Chang had developed, asking her second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students to visit the workplaces of bilingual professionals in Tallahassee and to interview those professionals.  (I met just with the fourth and fifth graders several months before they did the actual interviews.)  The program had several objectives, including exposing bilingual kids to people who make use of more than one language at work and therefore encouraging the kids to sustain their skills in more than one language.  The program in some cases exposed mainly immigrant kids to adult immigrants who have succeeded as professionals in the United States and gave the kids a chance to practice and hone their research, writing, listening, and speaking (in English) skills, in the context of planning and executing these interviews.

    As a former journalist and current sociology professor who has interviewed people as part of journalistic and scholarly research, I worked with Ms. Chang and the class to help the kids think about how they would plan and then actually conduct the interviews with the professionals.  Ms. Chang and I took the students to the library and retrieved encyclopedia volumes with articles on the various professions.  The kids perused these and, in small groups, developed some possible questions for educational professionals, in particular.  Working at an easel, I then synthesized some of these questions, left the room, and came back as a interviewing researcher to interview the kids' teacher, a bilingual educational professional, Ms. Chang.  Besides engaing in an exercise that seemed fun for all of us, I was supposed to be modeling for the kids what a interviewer might do.  We videotaped the interview, which lasted nearly half an hour.  Since I did not read the questions the kids suggested verbatim and asked a number of follow-up questions, no doubt some of the kids were not able to follow part of the interview.   Again, the main point, however, was to get the kids thinking about what kinds of questions to ask and how to go about asking them and just about the project in general.  Some of the kids were intrigued by the equipment I brought--a reporter's notebook, a mini-audio-cassette recorder.  I stressed the importance of taking notes, in addition to video- or audio-taping interviews, in part because equipment can malfunction.  Sure enough--some students noticed before I did--my tape recorder stopped long before the interview was over.  The kids had also suggested that I ask some questions for Ms. Chang in particular, such as what she did with her spare time, whether she enjoyed her job, and so on, which they seemed to have a special interest in (an interest beyond what they might have for professionals other than their teacher).

    I found Ms. Chang's students to be resourceful and energetic.  Their English--as one would expect--appeared to vary.  Some of them were more comfortable speaking in English than others.  In this particular setting the kids who were more outgoing and more verbal fared better, although the reading-the-encyclopedia and writing-questions exercise taxed their reading and writing in English abilities.  I already knew from also visiting for the October 2000 Pineview international festival that Pineview is an attractive school, with friendly staff, teachers, and parents and a multi-racial, multi-ethnic student population.  During my international festival visit I got to sample food from China, Iran, Korea, Mexico, and the Ukraine--and meet parents/cooks originally from those countries--and some of their children, Ms. Chang's students.  Ms. Chang helped make the several-hour January 2001 interviewing experience a good one for me, as she is a skillful organizer and classroom manager.  As a college professor, I found the experience helpful in that college students sometimes find it hard to understand my enunciation and sometimes find my classes disorganized. Helping plan a learning experience for students for whom English is all their second language and for students who are much younger than my college students potentially accentuated organizational and enunciation problems, and so it was a useful exercise for me to go through.  The experience was also personally gratifying in that students were excited and appreciative, looking carefully over my book and a newspaper with my articles in it and later writing my sweet thank-you notes.  The experience was also gratifying in that, later, I was able to hear how the project developed--with student interviews, on-site, of bilingual government officials, accountants, journalists, scientists, law-enforcement officers, and architects--and was even able to read about one of the interviews in the newspaper, their interview of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.  I'd like to think that this was a valuable program for these students--both for their skills development and for their future in general--and I'd also like to think that I played some small role in helping Ms. Chang, after she conceptualized the project, actually initiate it.

    The kids are fun, the school is great, Ms. Chang is an excellent teacher, the volunteer experience was useful and rewarding--What more could you ask for?

    Perry Chang
    Visiting Instructor of Sociology
    New College of Florida