Originally from Bell County, Miracle accepted her first job at GCHS and never left. She attempted to retire following her 29 years of teaching Spanish, but just couldn't leave well enough alone.
"My first child was a Japanese businessman's daughter who moved to Danville. They called me, I worked with her, and here I am now with 27 students in the ELL program." But it happened for a reason, and this is where she's meant to be, Miracle says.
She works closely with the students' teachers, figuring out what areas of study need the most concentration in addition to teaching them how to speak English.
Many of the students are self-conscious about speaking English
Chavez is a good-looking kid with bright, smiling eyes who seems to speak English well, but Miracle has to practically twist his arm to get him to talk to a reporter. She explains that many of the students may understand the language, but they are very self-conscious about speaking it.
"Most people don't know that these kids really feel misplaced. They usually come to the states under a difficult situation. Some didn't want to come. But they learn, they adjust and they make friends."
Chavez answers a few questions, each with one word, looking around a little to see who's listening. He just came here last year from Tamaulepas, located in Northwest Mexico near the mouth of the Rio Grande. It's an area known for being the leading natural producer of sugarcane and cotton.
"It's different there," is what Chavez says, and that's an understatement. Most kids here save their spare change to buy bubble gum. Children in Tamaulepas sell gum to make spare change, out trolling the streets at all hours, in order to help feed their families.
He did go to school regularly back home, Chavez says, but that was also different than it is here. Miracle said she called his school to get his records faxed, but they have no fax machine.
"So I asked them to mail the records to me, but they had no stamps," Miracle said.
"We came to America to try for a better life"
"My uncle is here. We came to America to try for a better life," Chavez says as he becomes more comfortable. His dad works at a Lancaster business and his mom is a homemaker; they are on their way, living a completely different life than back home.
Miracle is an integral part of helping these families get to this point, Bonnie Watson says. Watson is the director of the Family Resource Center in Lancaster, and has no idea what she would do without Miracle in the school system.
"She helps them obtain medical services, maneuver in the school system, with whatever they need in the community," Watson says, adding that the families often call Miracle at home, after hours or on weekends.
"I love my families so much, and they are very, very good to me," Miracle says with a huge smile.
She tells of birthday parties with festive dinners and learning how to make tortillas using a Wal-Mart bag. Miracle glows when she describes how much emphasis the Mexican culture places on family and what's really needed rather than wanted.
"I asked one girl what her dream home would look like. She said it would have three rooms. I asked her 'Three rooms? That's all?' and she said, 'That's all you need.'"
Board sending her to Mexico
The school board voted unanimously last week to send Miracle to Morelia, Michoacan, in Mexico for two weeks in June for a cultural studies trip. Watson found out about the opportunity, in which Miracle will study the health department, education system and 18 hours of Spanish, and immediately brought the brochures to her attention. "I just thought who better than Elsie to go on this and bring us back the information we need to work with our families better," Watson says.
It's easy to see that Miracle has something that creates a trusting environment for the kids and their families.
Watson knows exactly what Miracle has.
"It's because they have such a great deal of respect for her because they see her sincerity, and they know she's there minus the money and after working hours."