Amy Madsen – Ellison Park Elementary
My daughter, Mishell, was adopted from Ecuador 18 months ago at the age of 11. While Mishell did receive education at her orphanage, that was not the primary focus of her life as she was needed to help care for the younger children in her “casa” (house) as well as help with house chores, thus she was significantly behind in school when she arrived home with us. Mishell started 5th grade after we returned home with her in October 2015. She was at a different school at the time and we felt that she slipped through the cracks there. After that year, we moved to a new home in Layton with a lot of concerns about moving Mishell to yet another new school, how behind she was in school, and how she might fit in.
The night before school started this year, we received a call from the school principal that they were going to switch Mishell’s class to Mrs. Madsen and Mrs. Robinson’s class. We were upset about this because we had already met with her previously assigned teacher and the resource teacher to come up with a plan for her educational needs and we all felt good about it. We met again with Mrs. Madsen and Mrs. Robinson a week into the school year to come up with a plan with them to meet Mishell’s needs and I knew immediately that these were wonderful teachers, who not only have a passion for teaching, but a compassion for their students. Mrs. Madsen cried as she talked about staying up at night wondering the best ways she could go about meeting Mishell’s needs, and Mrs. Robinson talked about wanting to recruit her elderly father-in-law to come read with Mishell at the school, joking that he would be willing to drive his golf cart to come help her because he can’t drive anymore. I knew then that these ladies were going to be a big blessing to us and to Mishell.
This school year has absolutely done wonders for Mishell. Mishell not only learned a lot (she went from reading on a kindergarten level to reading and understanding on a 3rd grade level just this year), but she has been LOVED. Her teachers saw her worth and how special she is from day one and they did not allow her to forget it. They embraced her and in turn, the kids in her class and in the whole grade embraced her. Mishell is dreading the end of the school year (tomorrow) because she loves Mrs. Madsen and Mrs. Robinson and her class mates. Last year, it was a battle to get her to go to school.
Yesterday was the 6th grade graduation at Ellison Park and my tears overflowed when Mishell’s name was called as the Academic Scholar Award recipient for her class. She is not the typical definition of the “smartest kid in the class” but her teachers were willing to look outside of the box and award her for her huge efforts this year. The cheers for Mishell as she accepted her award were overwhelming to me. The vice principal and principal stood up and cheered for her and some of the other students cried. It was a phenomenal experience to see the result of the dedication of two special ladies whose love, faith in Mishell’s abilities, and teaching have absolutely transformed her.
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