Girl falls in love with homework in Gypsum |

Girl falls in love with homework in Gypsum

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyYaqueline Garcia, a fifth grader at Red Hill Elementary, works on a writing assignment in class on Friday. Garcia has improved drastically, especially in English, over the past six months.

GYPSUM, Colorado ” Yaqueline Garcia begs for homework.

Every day, after class, the Red Hill Elementary fifth grader asks her math teacher, Allyson Metz, for more.

She wants more homework because she loves it, because she’s starting to understand the things that for years flew over her head or became lost in translation.

Between the start of the school year to this winter, Garcia’s score on the NWEA test has risen 38 points ” the equivalent of about four years of growth in just a few months, said Jen Erickson, her reading teacher.

Most students’ scores go up about eight to 12 points in an entire year.

Garcia’s dramatic transformation is the kind of rare, special story that burrows in a teacher’s mind, inspires them and keeps them going.

“To see this type of improvement in a student is something you only read about or hear from your college professors,” said Renee Westenfelder, one of Garcia’s teachers. “To experience it first hand is amazing. It truly gives me hope that no matter where a students comes from and aside from their struggles, they can succeed.”

Garcia, like many Hispanic students, has struggled with learning English and has always lagged far behind her classmates. At the beginning of the year, Garcia believed she couldn’t do anything, and would actually say this to teachers, Metz said.

“She started off so significantly behind her grade level ” it was tough to figure out where she was,” Erickson said.

Things started changing though. Garcia is, above all things, a hard worker, and decided she didn’t want to be left behind anymore. She kept asking for more work, wanted to do it right and wanted to prove she could make it.

She made the biggest improvements in English ” speaking, reading, writing and areas of grammar like subject verb agreement. As the English skills started kicking in, everything else started falling into place.

Garcia’s teachers rallied behind her. They took a tag-team approach to teaching her ” talking about her in weekly planning meetings, figuring out what was working, what wasn’t and creating new ways to teach a difficult subject.

In a short period of time, Garcia’s confidence exploded, along with her enthusiasm for school work. That’s why she walks into classrooms grinning and greets teachers with hugs and high fives. And that’s why you now catch her asking for more homework ” because she can, and because she loves learning.

“She believes that she can do anything now and she works incredibly hard to prove it,” Metz said.

Metz said even the students notice how much Garcia has improved.

“I feel that many other students in fifth grade look up to Yaqueline because of her determination and they have seen her growth as well,” Metz said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or

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