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The Language of Learning: Inspiring Confidence Beyond the Classroom

Recently, we received an email about a student who received a full-ride scholarship to Cornell University. She is a valedictorian candidate at Brooklyn Collegiate Preparatory High School, one of the schools in NYC Department of Education’s AP for All  program, which partners with NMSI. After getting the chance to talk to the student, we discovered one of the driving forces for her success: her teacher. In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re highlighting Viva Paintsil and Ms. Tameika Glen.

Viva said there was no way she’d take AP Literature.

As a primarily math and science student with English as a second language, Viva Paintsil was hesitant to enroll in a higher level English course. However, thanks to the persistent prodding of the course’s teacher, Ms. Glen, Viva decided to take the chance and enroll – fully expecting to drop the course within the first few weeks.

"I came into AP Literature the first day and saw that the course load looked challenging. I thought I wasn't up for it," Viva admitted.

Enter Ms. Glen.
Ms. Glen saw a rare intelligence and drive in Viva, affectionately referring to her as a “unicorn.” She pushed Viva to challenge herself and provided extra vocabulary exercises, lists of rhetorical devices and feedback to help Viva feel successful in the course.
"Then it got to the point where I was making a lot of progress; I saw self-growth,” Viva shared. “Ms. Glen would come back with feedback on what I did well and what I could improve. It really encouraged me to go the extra mile. I saw that growth and I knew I needed those skills to go to college.”
On Tuesday, she sat for the course’s capstone test alongside more than 400,000 students across the country. When we spoke earler this month, she wasn't nervous.

I know I am going to pass the AP Literature exam, which is something I never thought I could do.
Beyond passing the test, Viva says that the significant improvements in her evidence-based reading and writing skills that she saw within the first semester of Ms. Glen’s class led to her earning a SAT score in the top 10% nationwide – a major stepping stone in being accepted to her dream schools, Cornell University and Stony Brook University.
"I wasn't sure whether to apply,” Viva said. “But Ms. Glen kept encouraging me and pushing me to at least take the risk because the worst thing they could say is 'no.' Thankfully I heeded her advice."

This fall, Viva will study human biology at Cornell University on a full-ride scholarship.

"At first, I really couldn't care about English in general -- but Ms. Glen made it resonate with us so much more. She is really passionate about AP Literature and her passion has transferred to me.”
Thank you to Ms. Glen and all teachers who encourage and inspire their students every day. You’re making waves, one student at a time.


Were you inspired by a teacher to succeed in a way you never thought possible? We want to hear your story! Email us at marketing@nms.org.  

To learn more about how NMSI supports teachers like Ms. Glen through professional development, mentorship programs and additional resources, check out our College Readiness Program.