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Jeffco Hero Awards: Maxlene Augustin

Jeffco Hero Awards: Maxlene Augustin
Posted on 11/30/2018
Arvada West High School senior Maxlene Augustin smiles during a read aloud exercise in her English as a Second Language class.Maxlene Augustin has traded her second-floor classroom at Arvada West High School, for Panem, the setting for Katniss Everdeen and the other characters from “The Hunger Games.”

This ESL (English as Second Language) class, is open to any Arvada West student who is here from another country, and there are many.

Maxlene and a classmate practice reading passages from “The Hunger Game” out loud.
Like Katniss, Maxlene is also on a hero’s journey. Unlike Katniss, hers is no work of fiction.
She came to Colorado from Haiti, where life was hard.

“We had one bed, me and my little brother were sleeping on it, and my mom and my stepdad, they were sleeping on the ground. We were poor. We just cooked when we had food to cook,” she explained.

Her mom, a street vendor, struggled to provide her family with the basics. After ten years of effort, her family was finally able to send her to America with her aunt to pursue a better life.

“I met Maxlene two years ago and when she came she looked terrified,” said counselor Stacia Taves. “She was so scared, she didn’t speak any English. I was just a little worried about how she would transition here and how she would do.”

What many didn’t realize at Arvada West, was Maxlene’s potential. It was soon apparent that whatever shortcomings she may have had in the English language, she more than made up in the language of math, jumping two levels.

“I just try hard to work on it. Find out the problem and result,” said Augustin.

Her self-confidence and her English skills grew.

“Soon, I started seeing big smiles in the hallways and she’d made friends. The transformation has been incredible,” said Taves.

Maxlene got an after-school job, and with the money she makes working weeknights and weekends, she’s able to help her family back in Haiti. At the moment, her future plans include a nursing career.
“I just like to take care of people,” she said.

Who needs Katniss Everdeen when you’ve got a Maxlene Augustin? And she doesn’t even have a crossbow.

“You’ve been a really big inspiration for a lot of people and we love having you here, and I think if all of our students worked as hard as you did, we’d be the most successful school in the country,” Taves said to Augustin.

See the JPS-TV version of this story here or below.

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