Boise teacher named Global Learning Fellow, helps refugee students

Posted at 4:22 PM, Jul 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 18:22:42-04

BOISE — "I think its a privilege to teach them, it's something I don't take lightly, its so important to me," said Boise teacher Lisa Sterling.

For some of these students, Miss Sterling is the first teacher they've ever had in America, and she's unlike any of the others they've had before.

"I think she is different, so different," said 7th grader Jacqueline, originally from Tanzania, "the teachers in Africa were like kinda mean and stuff they'll like hit you with stakes but she like gives us advice and she's nice."

"She's different because she needs to help you to understand, but in Africa, they need to beat you," said 7th grader Chrispe, originally from Uganda.

Having violence as precedence in school makes it a challenge to change the outlook on education, but it's her passion.

"It does break your heart," said Sterling, "but I love that they all recognize that they've come from this, but even though they're holding some parts of their culture they don't, they don't let the negativity define them."

After fourteen years as a school psychologist, she transitioned to being the English language development teacher at Hillside Junior High. She was recently named a National Education Association Global Learning Fellow. Her new recognition will provide even more training.

"For keywords, I try to translate it into their language, so they have something to anchor it to," said Sterling.

Some of these students she's taught the whole year. Others have only been in America a few weeks, but a commonality is they're all now eager to learn.

"Education is good because it helps you to have a good life, to help other people and to help your family," said Chrispe.

While today is a celebration of their last day of summer school, their accomplishments are far from over.

"They really have what it takes to do anything, and I'm excited someday ten years from now to hear about them in the news about amazing things they're doing, and I just am very excited for them."

These students are part of the Boise school district's bridge program. It's for junior high age students to spend two years in smaller classes with a focus on English and learning about how American schooling works. There are about 50-60 kids per year in the program throughout the district, and then once they complete it, they go to their neighborhood school.