DUBLIN, Ohio (WSYX) — Inside the halls of Dublin Scioto High School, you’ll find a celebration of cultures.
Inside the classroom of Claudia Priest, you’ll find a celebration of the journey to this place – for Priest and each of her students.
“They are an amazing group of kids,” she says. “I am learning so much from them.”
Priest is an ESL teacher, which stands for English as a Second Language. Her students are multi-lingual learners.
“My students come from seven different countries,” Priest said. “I have 11 students right now. They are at the beginner level, so they come here basically not speaking any English like I was at some point. I came here not speaking the language, so that’s why that connection is so strong for me.”
Originally from Columbia, Priest arrived in the United States at the age of 26. She joined the Army three years later, after September 11th.
“To me, it’s home,” she says. “So, I had to protect my home and defend my home as simple as that.”
She served seven years as an administrative specialist and then received a medical discharge. Priest knew she could still make a difference.
“I am a woman of faith, so I know God put me where he wanted me,” Priest said.
Her journey led her to Dublin City Schools, first as a bilingual aid. Then she went back to school. She is now in her first year of teaching.
“I love it,” she says. “It’s been amazing. It’s changed my life and I’m very glad that I went for it.”
Each day, she guides her students.
As an immigrant myself, I really have a soft spot for them, because I know what they’re going through,
Priest's military service is still very much a part of her identity and is celebrated inside the halls of Dublin Scioto, where the names of service members are displayed.
Priest said she is proud to be part of a rich, multi-cultural history of women in service.
“You are there to continue your job serving others,” she says. “It’s just not about you anymore.”
Priest is inspired every day by her students, their growth, and the future that lies ahead for each of them, as they continue their journey.
“I know they are here for a better opportunity, and I know they will change the world,” she says. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”