Health science teacher by day, English teacher by night


Andrew Barr

Sally Clemmons helps to read a passage from the Bible

The sound of children laughing and playing is faintly heard through the closed door. Bibles lay strewn across the long table as the mothers and ladies sit focused in on the lesson. They echo the phrases taught by their teacher, Sally Clemmons, as the open Bibles serve as their textbooks.

When she is not teaching her Medical Terminology or Health Science classes, Clemmons is helping to teach a group of Spanish-speaking women who attend Iglesia Bautista De Fe in Chapel Hill how to speak English. She teaches using passages from the Bible in their lessons.

“I just have a heart for them and am trying to help them learn English,” Clemmons said. “I think it is a positive impact for their children and their children’s education, which makes them all have a better life.”

The English Second Language (ESL) ministry at De Fe was established by two members from First Baptist Church of Lindale, which Clemmons also attends. When she heard that more workers were needed to assist with the program, Clemmons sought to volunteer her time.

It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what language you speak, you want the best for your kids.”

— Sally Clemmons

“She just has a heart for people,” Emily Weesner, CNA and Health Science teacher, said. “She cares for everyone and wants the best for them. I think it is great that she is getting to help these ladies learn English.”

Clemmons has been in the ESL ministry at De Fe for four years now. She teaches the women who attend classes every Monday night, using bilingual Bibles and focusing primarily on the book of Mark in the curriculum. In order for the ladies to participate in the classes, childcare is provided during the lessons. High school students from the youth group at Clemmons’ church volunteer to watch and interact with the children while their mothers learn.

“Mrs. Clemmons and I are very close,” junior volunteer Chelsie Cagle said. “She’s a very loving and caring person, and she’s just a wonderful lady to be around.”

As someone who previously knew little to no Spanish, Clemmons says that she has learned just as much as the ladies in the ESL class. She has influenced many through this ministry by overcoming the language barrier and reaching out to the community.

“I think [teaching ESL]is a positive impact[on the community] because for me personally, being a mom, it’s universal,” Clemmons said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what language you speak, you want the best for your kids. These women want to learn English so they can help their children with school, meet with teachers, and converse wherever they go to make their families better.”