Written by Carlo Person – Somali Outreach Specialist
It’s a Tuesday or Thursday morning. When I pull into the parking lot in front of the educational wing of Trinity Baptist Church in Renton I see Katie’s small gray car back up to the door. She chooses the closest parking space because she literally sets up the classroom each morning she teaches. She hauls in no less than 3 file boxes, a laptop computer and an open cardboard box for easy access to supplies she will need as lead teacher. I know she has put many hours into preparing the lesson and we often share with one another what time we got to bed the night before.
Katie is not only teaching a class of preliterate Somali students but creating the curriculum. Her students love her and say that this is the best ESL class! In SALT Somali Adult Literacy Training we ask the students what language they need for life outside of the classroom. SALT is popular because the content is student driven not curriculum driven. Another key part of SALT is faithful volunteers, nearly one to each student. The volunteers like the class because they are thankful for a well prepared directed environment where they can help their new Somali friend learn English.
It is a win, win situation where everyone leaves feeling successful, valued and fulfilled because we are all learning from one another. The two hours go by quickly and end with the students loading up Katie’s car with her file boxes with happy goodbyes and praciting saying, “Have a good weekend.”