Spotlight on Students: Meet Varya Makhalova
Spotlight on Students: Meet Varya Makhalova

Varya came to E.T.Richardson Middle School in the middle of 6th grade from Russia. When Varya first arrived, she knew very little English. She had to use a translator to communicate with her teachers and friends. Her first few months were difficult, but she always kept a positive attitude.  Varya describes her experiences in her first year and how she persistently studied English. Varya describes her first summer break; "Over the summer break, I read 2 books at a time and set a goal of learning ten new words a day. I made flashcards of words I didn't know. By the end of my first summer, I could talk."

By 7th grade, Varya felt confident in her English speaking proficiency, and she was able to make new friends, whom she is still close with today. Each year she has become more confident in not only her English proficiency, but in her overall achievements as well. Now, as an 8th grader, Varya is getting more involved. She was a part of the Brunner Bash leadership team and also was on the field hockey team.

Anyone who knows Varya knows how hard she works each and every day. She comes to school with a smile on her face and eager to learn. She has a genuine interest in school and doing her best.  Varya is driven and enjoys her success. Her mindset about learning is to be a role model to others.  She has taken responsibility for learning and accepting American school norms. She is motivated to grow and learn from others. All of her teachers describe her commitment each day. She shows tremendous effort and resilience.

Carol Latessa says of Varya, "I have been working with Varya closely this year and have been totally inspired by her.  I met her when she was in 6th grade and saw then how dedicated she was, even though she was not totally able to speak or understand English. Since then she has really grown as a student and a good person.  Varya is always willing to help her peers even though she faces many obstacles herself.  She goes above and beyond in her classwork and helping others."

Varya is truly an example of grit and growth mindset.

To read more profiles in this series, click the link below:

Spotlight on Students