PAYING IT FORWARD
Advancement Council member Knox Porter (M.Ed. ’82, Ed.S. ’87) sets up support for teachers of students learning English as a second language.
BY CLAIRE MILLER | PHOTOS BY STEVE THACKSTON
Even in his first years of teaching, Knox Porter (M.Ed. ’82, Ed.S. ’87) knew this short instruction period wouldn’t be enough. So, when a student from China joined his classroom and couldn’t speak any English, Porter and his class didn’t hesitate to find other ways to help him learn the language.
“We had a box of index cards we would take to lunch every day, and the students made cards for the foods he was eating,” he said. “His classmates were teaching him food vocabulary.”
The student from China worked diligently on his English, and one day, when asked to show a math problem on the board, he orally explained his work as he wrote.
When he was through, the whole class applauded.
“We were all invested in this student,” Porter said.
That moment changed Porter’s career. He became one of the first teachers in Georgia to expand ESOL preparation in schools.
“The most gratifying moments were seeing the sparkles in learners’ eyes when they knew they had grasped a concept and hearing the strength in their voices as they articulated it,” Porter said.
He has since retired from teaching, but his dedication to student success hasn’t diminished. In addition to his work on the College of Health and Human Development (CEHD) Advancement Council, he has established three planned CEHD scholarships for teachers of students learning English as a second language.
Porter wants to pay it forward by making incremental annual contributions to scholarships that will support ESOL students from Meadowcreek and Collins Hill high schools, where he taught for the last 17 years of his career.
“These scholarships make a connection between where I learned and where I worked,” he said. “Teachers are good at organizing and planning ahead, and I hope I can be an example of how teachers can create planned gifts.”