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Progress 2018

Goldsboro News Argus - Progress Edition

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they just don't have a platform to use them," she said. "I think that's part of the formula for making the classroom successful. I spend a big chunk of the beginning of the semester listen- ing. That allows me to then lecture, targeting the group. "None of my classes sound alike. I truly work on a lecture around that group. Although we cover chapters, it's about making this journey one of growth." Like any instructor with a passion for the profession, Freile is not ashamed to admit she wears her heart on her sleeve. She says she is the happiest when she is able to witness another human being blossoming. "It's not a secret that I will cry in class because to see a student that was so shy and so broken, suddenly you see them advocating for human rights or speaking against human traf- ficking," she said. "That's my fuel because I think we all have to contribute to the universe in some way while we're here." Each and every one of her students has a gift, she maintains. In most cases, they simply have not had a facilitator to help bring it out and encourage its development. That is one of her goals — to help students discover who they are, she says. "If you look at the classroom from the outside, you see all this diversity but everyone has their own purpose," she said. "It should allow them to find the best version of themselves." One does not have to look too far or too hard to unearth testimonials on the differences she is making among those under her leadership. Some have even embarked on a "movement" to make sure Freile's impact is recognized and rewarded. "I have never had a teacher that I would label the 'best teacher of all time," said student Chance Carter. "Being 25 and being in school for what seems like forever, all my teachers have been just OK or pretty good and of course I had a couple really good ones along the way but never one that has changed my life. "But on Aug. 18, 2017 I didn't know it at the moment but I had walked into the classroom that would change my whole outlook on life as well as my education and met the one teacher that they have always talked about but that I had never encountered." Freile blushed at the accolades, calling Carter a "kind human being." "Every semester I write a brand new speech, at the beginning and at the end, and the last one this year was based on Chance," she said. "You always hear that you're changing their lives but they're changing my life — they're giv- ing me so much hope." Daniel Toler said he recognized Freile's greatness right away. He recalled her asking the students to take a look around them, pointing out that those seated closest to them would be their group for the next 16 weeks. "She just threw us right in there and then she gave us Legos, of all things, to play with, and said everyone kind of contribute and build something," he said. "We had to make something that represented all of us. "Immediately the first day the five of us got a group chat going, Snapchats, we were texting each other. That was the lightbulb moment for us, that this was going to be a class like I've never been in before — because it was so personal and like we were all intertwined immediately and I just knew it was going to be something that I'd never experienced." Madison Murphy, an art education major, also formed a lasting first impression of the instruc- tor. From the beginning, Freile was very open and intent upon creating an environment con- ducive to the students feeling safe and accept- ed, she said. "I was having some trouble with some things at home and she literally looked at me and it was like, 'You know, your family's always going to be your family and that's fine but you also get to build your own village,'" Murphy said. "She made that a really big point to me and that just, looking into her face whenever she was telling me that I could choose my own fam- ily and then that would be my new support sys- tem and they would help me get to where I need to be, is the most wonderful thing I think I could get from her." So it was only natural that the teachable moments would replicate themselves among the recipients. "It's a ripple effect," Toler said. An exercise in the fall semester sparked a widespread effort. Based on the concept of "two truths and a lie," Freile's version was "two truths and a wish" because of her belief in putting value in every word. "My wish was to go to 'Ellen' (the Ellen DeGeneres Show)," she said. "I explained that I wanted to go to Ellen, that's my wish because I watch her every day. That's my dose of laugh- ter. "But the moments where she grants scholar- ships, as teachers we don't get recognition and students don't often get this platform." Her students heard more than the words — they heard her heart. And they parlayed that into action. "She says the universe can make things hap- pen," said Taylor Heeden, a senior at Wayne Early Middle/College High School planning to graduate in May with her high school diploma as well as associate degree. "It just happened," Murphy said. "Whenever you feel like somebody deserves something, not only at our college but the things that she's done for the community of Goldsboro." Several students had a similar idea to use their voices and make their teacher's wish come true, including Gina Bixby and Heeden — kick- ing off a letter-writing campaign and video to submit for the show. It was done without Freile's knowledge, as part of an assignment to do a "cheer speech." Students secretly captured videos in class to incorporate into their presentation. "There were no guidelines. That's one thing Miss Freile states — she doesn't put guidelines because if you put guidelines, it holds you back. She doesn't want us to be held back by any- thing," Carter said. Afterward, the video — of the mock Ellen show, complete with one student portraying the popular host — was posted on YouTube. "Within the first three days there was over 1,000 views and it has been viewed in over 15 different countries," Carter said. "Everywhere from the U.S. to Ecuador, Italy, Mexico, Canada, even to Chile." They didn't start out to have it be a big social media campaign, he added, but if that helps bring it to a reality, the students — and Freile — will not complain. Short of that, Carter said he is pleased to shine the light on the popular teacher. "We need them (the community) to know that Ms. Freile deserves everything that she has worked so hard to gain and that because of her people like us, who may not really have had somewhere to fit in, like we woke up wanting to go to class, wanting to learn and wanting to express ourselves — and not have to worry about what do I say next, what if people make fun of me? — because it was such a safe place," he said. "She created this environment that is like no other," Carter said. "That we long to be a part of," Toler added. Freile has become a combination mother fig- ure and trusted friend, several said. "She really pushes you to be a better person," Murphy said. "Not only because you're one of her students. I feel like if you were somebody on the street that just strikes up a conversation with her, she would like deliver that power. "She just has that energy that she feeds to people. ... She's literally like a lightbulb." Freile admits she was touched and humbled by the outpouring of kindness and love she has received along the way from her students. Their effort to make one of her dreams come true has been especially special. Helping with the imagery was a photoshopped image created of her on the Ellen show, which students pre- sented her with and now serves as a visual reminder in her office. "My heart gets so excited," she said. "My response to this would be I hope I get to go on (the show) so that I can share about how amaz- ing these superheroes in my classes are and so it's not about me. "I almost wish I could get a call so I can tell (Ellen), 'Can you just carry my class there? It's about my students. That fact that a group of college students would take it upon themselves, to sneak a video, to write letters, to make this something that goes viral. It's so beautiful to think that I have inspired such energy." educational arena, so I'm sending them my bio now," she said. "You know, just teach- ers all throughout, I've never met before, they'll say things like, 'If I can inspire my stu- dents like that,' and one of the best things that's happened to me, I've had students sign up for my class now because they want to teach." Response from the Ellen Show is still pending, but meanwhile the community can follow its progression through several social media addresses. The link to the video submitted to the show several months ago can be found on YouTube at https://youtu.be/NRjNEuyxGFg. A Google or YouTube search for Ellen Freile will immediately bring up the link, says Gina Bixby, a 29-year-old student from Wilmington who spearheaded the video and letter-writing campaign. The full-time student is working toward becoming an actuary, will graduate in May with associate degrees in science and arts. There are also posts on Twitter, at #Ellen- Freile. 20C — Goldsboro News-Argus Friday, February 23, 2018 A mighty gift Reaching Photo submitted Andrea Freile, center (holding framed picture), communications instructor at Wayne Community College, along with a group of her students. the world Continued from page 19 Andrea Freile and her students hold a conversation as another student records. Photo submitted Continued from page 11

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