MESQUITE (CBSDFW.COM) – Virtually every school district in North Texas educates students who have limited English abilities, but a teenager in Mesquite made it his goal to graduate in May — even though last August he couldn’t speak English.
In teacher Courtney Neighbour’s “English for Speakers of Other Languages” class, the lesson on this day centered on an epic journey.
Each of the students listening intently, all newcomers to Texas and the United States, have a story, but Mohammad Odeh’s journey put him on a path traveled by no student of Mesquite’s Poteet High School… until now.
“I tried to, like outside the school, I tried to make everything in English,” he said.
Speaking no English, Mohammed arrived last September from Jordan. Principal Taylor Morris said what the young man has accomplished since then is more than impressive. “I pray that I’ll see this again [but] I don’t know that I’ll see it again. It’s that remarkable,” he said.
To graduate the 18-year-old needed four years of state required English classes. Mohammad took four years worth — in eight months. He attended day and night school and passed every class.
When asked how he did it, Mohammad said, “Hard work. Self-motivation. [When] getting set on something you want to do it, you want to reach it.”
Neighbour’s had nothing but high praise for her student. “To come in as a first year language learner, to complete English I and II and III and IV in night school and become such a well spoken young man is a true testament to his character. He’s just amazing.”
There are almost 1,900 students at Poteet High and Mohammad isn’t the only one trying to play “catch up” to complete all the required classes and courses. But the teen holds the distinction of being the only student there to not only master a language but also complete four years of English courses in one year.
Taking time to commend one of his prized pupils Principal Morris congratulated Mohammed saying, “I just want to tell you I’m proud of you.”
On Wednesday afternoon Mohammed learned he’d also passed all of his state exams. He graduates from Poteet on Sunday, will begin his higher learning at Richland College, a part of the Dallas County Community College District, and then head to the University of Texas at Dallas to get his degree and achieve his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer.