Photo caption: Daniella Bass (third from right) poses with students who participated in a summer enrichment program this year.
story by Claire Miller
In Daniella Bass’s (M.A.T. ’19) classroom at Stone Mountain High School, you’ll find a copy of “Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from an Atlanta High School.”
The book features stories from students at Cross Keys High School, Clarkston High School and the DeKalb International Student Center who immigrated to Georgia. Their essays highlight their experiences in their home countries and how they adapted to life in America.
Bass teaches English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to Stone Mountain High’s freshman and sophomores – many of whom can relate to the essays found in “Green Card Youth Voices.”
After reading a few of the book’s chapters, Bass asks her students to write their own personal narratives about their experiences moving to Georgia and their goals and aspirations for the future.
“In my classroom, we have our own community where we get to learn about different languages, cultures and food,” she said. “They teach me about their cultures and I teach them about my cultures, American and Dutch.”
Bass, who graduated from the College of Education & Human Development’s Collaboration and Resources for Encouraging and Supporting Transformation in Education (CREST-Ed) teacher residency program in 2019, also serves as the school’s ESOL department chair and the sponsor for its International Club.
In all of these roles, she emphasizes the strengths her students bring to school every day and plans her lessons with her students’ cultural identities in mind.
“The most valuable thing I learned in the CREST-Ed program was the emphasis on culturally-relevant pedagogy, where students use their cultural funds of knowledge,” she said. “In the world of education, we tend to focus a lot on learning losses and students’ deficits. But I think it’s important to celebrate them for what they know and who they are.”
Bass was recently named a 2021 recipient of the Georgia Department of Education’s Exemplary ESOL Teacher Award. This recognition is given to ESOL teachers who have “worked endlessly to find practical solutions to meet the needs of and overcome obstacles faced by both EL students and their families during this past school year,” according to the department’s website.
For Bass, this meant not only addressing any language barriers that might occur, but also ensuring her students had access to the necessary technology and understood how to use it.
“I spent a lot of time last summer and this year finding ways to reach my students,” she said. “I put in a lot of work this year to try to build bridges to my students and their families.”