IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Teacher becomes US citizen and all her previous students show up to support her

She had so many students there — both current and former — that some had to wait outside!
Small posed with her students and the judge for a photo after becoming an American citizen.
Small posed with her students and the judge for a photo after becoming an American citizen.Annmarie Small
/ Source: TODAY

An elementary teacher in Florida just became an American citizen — and she did it with the support of her young studentsin the courtroom.

Annmarie Small came to the United States 18 years ago from Jamaica, dreaming of a better life for her and her son.

“I was struggling financially in Jamaica and even having a master’s degree, I wasn’t able to make ends meet,” she said.

She was hired to teach at Cornerstone Learning Academy in Tallahassee and in addition to a good job, she found a community that inspired her. In a speech to the courtroom as she became a citizen, she said her school was what taught her about being an American.

“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,” she said. “America is beyond just the material things.”

Small's students watched from the courtroom as their teacher took the oath to officially become a citizen.Annmarie Small

In the room were her fourth grade students, both past and present, to support their teacher. They all celebrated with a party afterward.

“I’m really proud of her and I think she’s pretty proud too,” one of Small’s current students, Kalliope Flom, said.

There were so many former and current students there to support Small, they didn't all fit in the courtroom! Everyone cheered as she walked out of the courthouse and waved flags.Annmarie Small

Always the teacher, Small said she hopes her students always remember the main lesson she’s learned about the American dream.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re from a different country, everybody is the same,” she said.