Students become the teachers in aiding educator to US citizenship
A smile is painted on the face of East High School Japanese teacher Yoko Grove as she looks back and remembers what took place just days before.
"It just happened really fast," Grove said. "It felt surreal and then I told myself, what has just happened? Did I pass it? It's just so unreal, everything happened very fast."
On Tuesday, Grove became a U.S. citizen in front of hundreds of students and guests inside the East High School Auditorium. It was a special moment for Grove whose students helped her along the way.
When she asked her third and fourth-period students if they would help her study for the citizenship exam, there was no hesitation.
"It gives me a good perspective," Grove said. "Obviously, as a teacher, I always teach my students and give my students a quiz. It was a really refreshing experience that I, myself, have to study and somebody is going to test me. So I asked my students if they would like to help me and they said yes."
Grove had to study 100 potential questions that could be on the U.S. citizenship test. Of those 100 questions, 10 are randomly selected for the exam and she needed six answers to pass. Grove and her students tackled five questions a day using flashcards. Grove also studied on her own.
During the exam, she answered the first six questions correctly, passing with flying colors. Her work ethic and determination rubbed off on many of her students and other members of East High's diverse student body.
"Having our students be able to observe something like that," East High School principal Sam Spinella said. "We have many of our students who are not citizens and we have such a diverse population, so that was very special."
Spinella estimates East High School is home to roughly 30 different ethnic groups.
"Some of the students heard individuals from their own natural country, countries that they come from so it was very special for them as well," Spinella said.
Becoming a U.S. Citizen is no easy task. Individuals need to track down numerous documents, pass exams, write essays and it also can be quite spendy.
Grove says the time she put in to achieve the goal of U.S. citizenship was worth it, and that she was grateful for the opportunity to have the naturalization ceremony at her school.
"It was wonderful. It was like living in a dream, and again I felt it was so surreal," Grove said. "I see all the students, my students and other students, sitting in the auditorium, walking towards the stage and I just felt like this is the best day ever."
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