Jakub

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"My family escaped Poland in 1984. We lived as refugees in Greece for six months before coming to the United States under political asylum. My father spoke some English. But my mom, brother and I didn’t speak any English. I was a 3rd grader. We moved around a lot in those first six months, and I went to four different elementary schools. In San Diego, the ESL program was not equipped to help Polish-speaking English learners, so we were thrown into the general population to have full immersion in the class with other students. My father would take us to the public library on Sundays to check out as many books we were interested in. There was one history book that I kept checking out constantly, reading and reading to learn the language. But I was held back in 3rd grade for not speaking English well enough. In 5th grade, I had Ms. Garcia who was teaching a 5th and 6th grade combined class. She noticed my comprehension was higher than usual and switched me to 6th grade within the first few weeks of school. Her decision to do this really gave me more confidence in school and showed me that through hard work my achievements can be rewarded. I continued to work as hard as I could and ended up skipping 10th grade and graduating early.”

— Jakub, Parent and PTO Co-Chair, California