Persistence and Triumph

Margie Bertsch Profile
Article by Margie Bertsch
English Teacher

"It was incredible seeing God work through the Gateway staff who came together to support him."

Looking back over my past 4.5 years of teaching English at Gateway Woods School, one particular student stands out in my mind. I’ll call him Bob. When Bob first arrived at the school, we realized he had a lot of catch-up work to complete. He was in his last two years of high school with hardly any credits.

I tested his abilities so I could find a way to meet his needs. I soon realized he could hardly spell and could not even write a sentence. His handwriting looked like an elementary student’s. The other staff members quickly realized this as well. He was not unintelligent but had many gaps in his education. As a team, we formed a plan to support him academically.

I personally began working with him during and after school to improve his English skills. Other teachers and houseparents did their part to help him in other areas. It truly was a team effort. I watched him struggle with all the new information being thrown at him, but over time, he started to master the material. I learned he loved to listen to old country music, had a strong protective instinct, and could be hilarious. I remember the time he read ahead and finished Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson before the rest of the class. I had to remind him not to spoil the ending multiple times because he was so engaged. He also drafted and edited essays with me during 5th period to pass the English portion of the test to get his GED. Sometimes, he grumbled, but he never gave up. By the time he was ready to leave Gateway, he was able to write a five-paragraph essay. Ultimately, he earned his GED in a very short amount of time.

I was honored to be a part of this young man’s journey. Many students have come through Gateway, and often, my students care less about their academic growth than I do. Bob was unique. He had a lot against him, but he made a personal choice to not give up. He cared and put forth a lot of effort. His hard work paid off. It was incredible seeing God work through the Gateway staff who came together to support him. I am so thankful to be serving at Gateway Woods and for the opportunity to learn from my students.

Margie is currently the English teacher at Gateway Woods School.