The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

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ESL teachers Bright Egwim and Jennifer Kruger encourage diversity and teach students how to advocate for themselves

Credit: Josephine Velo
Bright Egwim prepares materials for his ESL class. Thorough preparation is one of the most important parts of teaching this unique, multicultural group of students.

Bright Egwim welcomes newcomers in his ESL class 

There are many teachers at Loy Norrix, but only a few have a whole class of students who don’t speak the same language as their peers. For Bright Egwim and Jennifer Kruger, teaching ESL is their passion and an opportunity for them to impart wisdom on their students and create a unified environment.

According to the Detroit Free Press, there are more than 90 thousand ESL teachers in Michigan public schools, including Norrix’s two ESL teachers.

“We are pretty privileged at KPS. The department has worked hard to provide us with a lot of resources,” said Egwim.

As claimed by the National Center for Education Statistics, English as a Second Language (ESL) is becoming a larger part of education in the United States. At Norrix alone, there are about 180 students who require ESL teaching. All of these students are taught by these two ESL teachers: Egwim, who speaks English, Ibo, Yoruba, Thai, French and basic Spanish, and Kruger, who speaks both English and German.

“I started teaching in my country Nigeria, then relocated to Thailand to teach ESL. I’ve been teaching for over 12 years,” said Egwim.

Teaching didn’t run in Egwim’s family.

“I came from a family that’s business orientated, creative and musicians,” said Egwim. “But I wanted to get into education, and my family said no because education is meant for people who are poor. Passion and calling led me to education.”

Egwim’s main goal is making sure that the students in the class feel unified.

“My job is trying to bring everyone into a consensus,” said Egwim. “It might take us a couple of months, the first week of school is usually just us building that relationship and setting expectations and getting them to understand.”

Egwim takes into account where the students are currently at, where they need to be and how to get them there.

“You have to assess each student’s level and where they are in terms of learning and how they can best have access to that instruction, so it’s not a waste of time,” Egwim said.

One of the teaching strategies Egwim uses is scaffolding and demonstration.

“Scaffolding means when you go deeper into each subject like vocabulary. You break it down to the root word and have the student relate it to their background and how they can relate to that word and the context surrounding it,” said Egwim.

One of the issues Egwim struggles with in the classroom is behavior.

“The hardest part of my job is also the most fun part of my job, which is behavior,” said Egwim. “I work with students who come from diverse backgrounds, language backgrounds, academic backgrounds and cultural backgrounds. For some people, it’s normal to talk back to a teacher in a classroom in their country. For some, it’s normal to play around and kick people. For some, it’s normal for some to just do whatever they want.”

Although teaching such a diverse body of students can come with its own set of struggles, the diversity is one of Egwim’s favorite parts of the job.

“I enjoy working with students with diverse backgrounds and getting different cultures and perspectives to life, to instruction and to teaching,” said Egwim. “Every student has an expertise in something they know from their culture and they will bring that to class. When I teach I enjoy the fun, the laughter and the action. It’s a pleasure working here at Loy Norrix High School. I love the community: I love my students and being able to impact their lives.“

Jennifer Kruger leads a class discussion on literature. Using books is one of the many ways she teaches English to her students. (Credit: Aidan Zajac)

Jennifer Kruger teaches second year ESL students

Jennifer Kruger is Norrix’s other ESL instructor. She began teaching ESL last year, and works on guiding students through the process of being successful in English taught classes, as well as helping students communicate their needs.

“I learned German as a second language and lived in Germany,” Kruger said. “I know what it’s like to try to live and work in a new language, and it’s just so much work.”

Kruger taught German at Western Michigan University before coming to Norrix to work with high schoolers.

“This is my first time working with high school students. I love it,” Kruger said.

With lots of support and resources from the school, Kruger’s main goal is teaching students how to properly advocate for themselves within the classroom so that their needs are met.

Kruger explains that the hardest part of her job is watching students “feel like there’s a wall between them and what they’re trying to learn.”

Her favorite aspect of teaching ESL is all of the cultures and languages in one space.
Kruger said, “The other day we counted, and there were 21 languages in the room. I think that’s really special.”

Both Egwim and Kruger provide a space for students to learn and benefit the school environment by promoting diversity and inclusion.

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About the Contributors
Josephine Velo
Josephine Velo, Executive Director
I'm a senior and this is my 3rd year on Knight Life. As Executive Director, I work on utilizing multiple forms of media in our stories to enhance their quality and catch the reader's attention, and help manage the class and make sure everyone feels supported. I've enjoyed combining my love for photography, video and writing on the newspaper. In my free time I like to read, write, listen to music, and do yoga.
Alice Damashek
Alice Damashek, Business Manager
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Bello!! My name is Alice and I'm a Sophomore this is my first year in Knight life. The reason I am in Knight Life is because I like literature. In my free time I like to make art. I am really passionate about helping my community in any way I can as well.

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