AP NEWS

Philippines native finds home at Fort Mojave Elementary

December 31, 2018

FORT MOHAVE — Abigael Hall had a plan: she was going to wrap up her studies at Philippine Normal University, then work in the business world.

But she began tutoring small children in her spare time, setting off a chain of events that literally put her an ocean away from that original plan.

“I enjoyed talking to the kids and sharing stories,” Hall recalled. “I enjoyed seeing them complete their work and acquire skills.”

Hall now teaches kindergarten at Fort Mojave Elementary School.

She said she has experienced a difference in culture, coming to the U.S. after teaching in her native land.

“I learned a lot when I started here,” Hall said.

In the Philippines, Hall taught at a Catholic school run by nuns. She said she noted that classroom management was more of a task in the U.S.

“There is a wider range of personalities,” she said. “I’m still learning now how I can best help each child.”

She said that FMES parents are less involved in their children’s education.

“I’d say more than 10 years ago when I worked in the Philippines as a teacher in a private school, I had close to 100 percent parental involvement,” Hall said. “I do understand here that parents are trying their best to be involved as much as they could in their child’s education, but a lot of them are also working and in different shifting schedules. With this, I think it is important to make myself available to them if there is any issue that needed to be addressed. I think it is important that a teacher and a parent should work together to discover how to help a child succeed not only in academics but also in social and emotional aspects.”

She said that it’s important to build routines for children who have not been in school before.

“If I don’t get that done early, they’re gonna struggle the whole year,” Hall said.

Kindergartners, Hall said, are a pleasant group to teach.

“I think they keep me busy,” she said. “They’re fun to talk to, and they share stories. I just like the amount of growth I see in them.”

Hall said it’s particularly rewarding to see children enter her class not knowing how to read and leave with that skill (and math) conquered.

She said FMES is an ideal workplace because of how the school is organized and how well the staff works together.

“A lot of people here, I really enjoy working with,” Hall said.

Another plus, she said, is the availability of professional development activities that help her grow as a teacher.

Hall said that she typically introduces a concept to her entire class, then moves to small groups, so each child can get help with what he or she is struggling with.

She will frequently model a task and gauge the responses to see how much of the material the children understand.

The school’s kindergarten classes recently finished a unit on holidays around the world. Hall’s class studied Brazil — another class claimed the Philippines first.

Another recent unit was on plants, and included placing seeds in paper towels and seeing whether they will sprout.

For the spring, Hall said, she hopes to secure a grant for a ladybug habitat.

She said she defines success in a variety of ways.

“If I see kids getting or understanding (concepts),” she said. “If they say they like coming to school. When they say ‘I had a great day’ at the end of the school day.”

That last happens regularly, Hall said, as it’s a daily goal to be sure that at least one child can say that.

Another normal occurrence: Hall talking to her students about when they’re in college — as in college being an eventuality for each of them.

FMES administrative principal Pat Turco said Hall is always ready to help other staff members, and always pleasant about doing so.

“Mrs. Hall is very strong instructionally,” he said. “She’s always willing to take on extra tasks and committees. She’s definitely a leader within the school.”