“Do you know this little boy,” asked our school secretary standing at my door.

I scanned his face.

“No, he doesn’t look familiar,” I said, looking at his sweet shy face, clearly confused and afraid.

“The other kindergarten teacher said he isn’t on her list,” she continued.

“Well, he’s going to come right in and have breakfast with us,” I interrupted, leading him by the shoulder to an empty seat.

“What’s your name?” I asked him quietly.


“What’s his name?” I asked the secretary over my shoulder before she escaped.

“No idea – we don’t know who he is,” she replied.

With that, my adventure with Sami began.

It was the first day of kindergarten and there were many new faces.  Of course, at the time, I didn’t know Sami’s name.  We didn’t actually find out who he was until after lunch.  Some serious sleuthing by both the secretary and ELL teacher uncovered the mystery.

Sami’s parents, like him, didn’t speak a word of English.  Not a word.  When the registration paperwork came in the mail, unable to read it, they most likely tossed it. When they saw the school bus go by, they put their son on it.  Talk about trusting.  Talk about scary.  Sami was severely brave.

Over the next few weeks, Sami started getting the routine and following along.  Always paying attention, he was silently soaking up every word and experience around him. He never spoke a single word until, after almost two months, feeling brave myself, I decided to make him first.

There was his name, right in the Morning Message: Sami is first.

As the entire class read it in unison, his face lit up like the night sky on the Fourth of July.

But it wasn’t then he spoke.

Later, when we were lining up for lunch, Sami ran to the front of the line, looked up at me, smiled the widest grin he’d shown yet, and stated, rather loudly while pointing to himself, “First!”

I smiled back at him, not wanting to ruin the moment with words of my own and then Sami, also for the first time, took my hand as we walked to the cafeteria.