Letters of Hope

In a heartwarming end-of-year project, Emily Francis, an ESL teacher at Concord High School in North Carolina, guided 14 of her high school seniors to write encouraging letters to future newcomer students. These heartfelt messages serve as a beacon of support and guidance for those embarking on their own journey in a new country, school, and culture.

Before becoming an educator, Emily Francis herself undertook a challenging journey. She came to the United States at the age of 15 and started high school. Her letters, exchanged with her mother during this time, became a lifeline—a way to express joy, sadness, and longing.

Letters as a navigation system

Now, as an ESL teacher, Emily Francis draws from her own experiences to connect with her students. Her book, “If You Only Knew: Letters from an Immigrant Teacher,” features letters addressed to eight of her students. Each letter carries a unique theme, touching on struggles, triumphs, and the path to success. Emily hopes that these letters will serve as a navigation system for her students, helping them find their way through the challenges of adapting to a new language and culture.

A legacy of compassion

The project with her high school seniors is an extension of this philosophy. These letters, written by students who have walked a similar path, create a legacy of support. As future newcomers read them, they’ll find solace, encouragement, and a sense of belonging. Emily’s journey—from Guatemala to a classroom in North Carolina—inspires us all to reach out, connect, and uplift one another.

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Letters of Hope

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