Progress 2018

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and I will love them always," she said. "A lot of my students have never been told that they're loved. A lot of them are broken and they have been hurt and stepped on. "They have been judged and labeled and re-labeled and you tell them you love them — because I sincerely do. It's not a job. It's a vocation. It's a gift. How blessed are we that we get to be on this journey?" The communications instructor at Wayne Community College has had her own inter- esting trek to get here. During her early teen years in Ecuador, she was part of a cast in a TV show for kids. "Entertainment — we called them kind of magazines — it's like teaching songs that help you learn about honesty. We had to sing and dance, it was that connection with complete strangers," she said. "I'm 39 now, that was a long time ago. "I try to look back and think about what helped me. I needed to make people smile. So it was the first time that I understood that a smile and laughter could change a mood and an audience." That quite possibly set the tone for what she tries to do every for those in her classes — help them cultivate that feeling of happiness. Her family came to America in 1995, when Andrea was 16. They lived in Orlando for 10 years before moving to Wayne County. Her resumé includes being community serv- ices director at the Partnership for Children of Wayne County, roles in public relations and government jobs and serving as development director for Habitat for Humanity. She earned two master's degrees, is a certified yoga instructor and has created her own hybrid textbook for her classes. All while juggling the role of single mother to her beloved children, Bella, 14, and Jack, 3, and the challenges of fibromyalgia. "I do have an issue with pain that I struggle with," she said. "So I'm being real with (my students) about this bucket of energy that I have. "I tell them this, 'I honor your time and every time you're here I'm going to give you 100 percent. The materials that you're reading that I wrote for you, I have given 100 percent so it's fair to ask that while you're here with me, you honor my time, too. They understand that honoring somebody has value." Being hired at WCC in the fall of 2015, came at a critical juncture in her life, but proved to be the precise moment it was sup- posed to, she says now. "I had to evaluate what I wanted to do for the rest of my life," she said. "So I brought my experience, not only professionally but person- ally, and my skills along with my gifts and I thought all that combined, where can I put that where it will make a difference? "It had to be WCC, because it's a community college but the job didn't exist so when it opened (the position) I do believe it has all led me here." She had previous teaching experience, over a decade ago, at Frink Middle School in LaGrange and Eastern Wayne High School. "When I came (to WCC) it really didn't take but like a week to know this is exactly where I need to be," she said. "Every single day I wake up with such a sense of purpose." She teaches five classes a semester, in the areas of public speaking and communications, boasting a 100 percent retention rate and stu- dents signing up for additional courses simply because she leads the class. "I hardly have any absences," she said. "I hardly have anybody drop out of class. "They're so used to teachers just lecturing. They'll say this is nontraditional teaching but I think it's just non-traditional for them." A classroom may be just four walls but the role of a educator has more to do with what they bring as a person. She often sheds her shoes when she teaches, she says, because she wants to be grounded. "I have chosen to create an environment that involves inclusion," she said, explaining that term is not limited to those with disabili- ties. "I mean overall inclusion and acceptance. "I think that by making this classroom one that allows for that, you now are able to have spirited exchanges of ideas because you have that environment. You feel supported by that." Another characteristic she is known for is breaking down some of the barriers that can be equally conscious and subconscious. "Lots of my students come into my class- room with labels — some political, some reli- gious — and what they really need to know is they have the option to remove the label or to wear it but with the understanding that they can look at things from different views," she said. Freile's insight has proven beneficial in how she tackles each situation and group of stu- dents. 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M cellence that y-leading ex 16DMG0217J© A mighty Instructor Andrea Freile watches as several students lead their classmates in a group discussion during an Introduction to Com- munications class at Wayne Community College. Freile often gives her students the independence to teach and learn from each other instead of lecturing for the entire class period. gift Continued from page 11 See Page 20

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