It is not every day you get to become a U.S. citizen, and this teacher’s students know that, which is why they all went with her to show their support in her naturalization ceremony.
In a heartwarming picture, Annmarie Small, a teacher at an elementary school in Tallahassee, Florida, can be seen posing next to the judge, surrounded by her students, after becoming an American citizen. There were so many students that, according to Today, some of the students had to wait outside to celebrate with her.
“When I was a little girl, I knew I had a purpose,” Small said during the ceremony. “However, I was struggling financially in Jamaica and even having a master’s degree, I wasn’t able to make ends meet. I have a son and I wanted a better life for him, I was yearning for a change.”
18 years ago, Small decided to apply for a job in the U.S. at Cornerstone Learning Community, where she is still working today. Small thanked her son, her community, her students and her employer, who proudly shared a video of the ceremony in a Facebook post.
“It is with profound joy that we celebrate Ms. Annmarie being sworn in as a naturalized US citizen today!” Small’s employer posted to their Facebook page. “Congrats, Annmarie. Our country is at least one awesome person better today than we were yesterday. What an honor it is to have played a role. We are made better by you.”
Small promised to keep doing her duty as a teacher, and as an American citizen, by teaching her students about compassion, and empowering them to be the best people they can be. She told everyone in the courtroom that her employer, Cornerstone Learning Community, taught her what it meant to be an American.
“I have learned a lot from my community. They have shown me through their actions what it means to be an American,” Smalls said, with tears in her eyes. “They have shown me that America is more than a place of glamour, fancy cars, red carpets, ball gowns and stilettos — though I do love my stilettos. America is beyond just the material things.”