Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Success Story: Marius "Mimi" Kothor

Via Mary Ann Zehr at Education Week, I came across the story of Marius "Mimi" Kothor, who arrived in the U.S. as a refugee from her native Togo at age 10 and is about to graduate with honors from high school. If you're looking for a pick-me-up, this should do the trick.

I like these comments from Zehr:
What's interesting to me about the story is how it took a very long time—until high school—for Kothor to find her educational stride. More than a year after her arrival, Ellingwood said she was shy and seemed depressed and some teachers suspected she had a learning disability. Over time, she was able to catch up with her peers and excelled as a student. She didn't have a learning disability.
What struck me was the influence of Lyne Ellingwood, an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher assigned to Mimi. Ellingwood refused to believe that there was something wrong with Mimi that hindered her learning, as others asserted.
Ellingwood, meanwhile, took Mimi's education personally. She enrolled her in special weekend English clinics at Nazareth College, found a way to make payments and drove the little girl to her intensive lessons.
Mimi had two things that all struggling students need: a tireless advocate and plenty of time. You will enjoy the news story and Ms. Zehr's blog post, with a lengthy comment by Ellingwood herself.

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