Delva Students

The first thing you will notice about siblings Marvens and Marlie Delva when you meet them is that they love attending school.  Fifth-grader Marvens and third-grader Marlie enrolled this past October at Gilbert Willie, Sr. Elementary after having lived in Haiti their entire lives.  Haiti, which is located in the Caribbean, is a small island east of Cuba and Jamaica and those who live there speak Haitian Creole.  

And while the siblings did not speak a word of English when they arrived, that did not stop them nor their teachers from quickly learning and adapting. “We were given an afternoon’s notice,” shared Meaghan Van Malsen, Marven’s fifth grade teacher.  “But we were so excited to meet them that we quickly got out our iPads and learned how to say ‘hello and goodbye’ along with ‘My name is’ in Haitian Creole,” she shared. 

By the time the students arrived the next morning, both Marvens’ and Marlie’s teachers - Ms. Van Malsen, Ms. Acevedo and Ms. Middendorff  had a plan. The siblings  were given iPads to enable them to translate between Haitian Creole and English and their reading, math, science and history lessons were uploaded to the iPad and translated for them. 

The teachers quickly found out that both siblings were extremely smart and ready to adapt and learn. “Marlie is eager to learn,” shared Ms. Acevedo.  “She is already starting to recognize words and read at a third grade level in English.”  

In working closely with Marvens, Ms. Van Malsen was able to identify that he learns best through gamified instruction. “Marvens has been able to quickly learn the language by playing language match-up games on the iPad,” shared Ms. Van Malsen.  “Gamified instruction is a fantastic teaching tool for students and they have been great for Marvens.” 

All three teachers also gave high praise for Marvens and Marlie’s mother.  “We have been so fortunate to have their mom - who is also trying to learn English -  as our partner at home,” shared Ms. Middendorff.  “You can tell that mom is working with the students at home and understands that this is a collective effort - teacher, parent and student.” 

Both Marvens and Marlie are eager to immerse themselves into American culture and recently attended the school’s annual literacy night with their mom and enjoyed their first Thanksgiving school lunch and holiday parties. But perhaps what they are best known for are their hugs.  “They give the best hugs,” shared Ms. Acevedo.  “They want to be here and learn.  They are excited to attend school and they have not missed a day of school since arriving last October,” she shared. 

And, when asked if he loves school, Marvens pulled out his iPad and translated back, “Wi m renmenl lekol la'' which means, “Yes, I love the school” proving that the love of learning knows no boundaries.