NEWS

September 08, 2017

Challenging Mindsets to Help Students Realize Their Potential

The moment Mark went up to the blackboard for the first time in his life and wrote in Armenian

In celebration of International Literacy Day, we’re sharing the following story from Teach For Armenia—an inspiring example of how, when given the education, support, and opportunity they deserve, children can flourish and defy expectations:

When Teach For Armenia Fellow Rudolf Harutyunyan arrived in Blagodarnoye Village in August 2016 as a history teacher, he heard many stories about one of his future students, Mark (not his real name). Rudolf was told that Mark didn’t engage in class—he didn’t listen to anyone, didn’t like coming to school, and didn’t know how to read or write—and some teachers had given up on him.

Rudolf met 13-year-old Mark in September, on the first day of school. During the first lesson, the students played an icebreaker game to get to know each other, and Rudolf was surprised to find that his expectations of Mark were far from reality—Mark wasn’t disruptive or defiant, he was actually very quiet and calm.

Rudolf began leading after school activities and invited Mark to join him to do his homework. Mark stayed behind every day for a few hours and Rudolf started teaching him how to read and write. Within seven months, their hard work paid off and Mark began to feel comfortable at school and among his classmates.

Rudolf's student-centered approach motivated other teachers. They began working with Mark more closely to ensure he was understanding his assignments and becoming successful in all subjects. Mark’s confidence grew, and as the year went on, he started to express his personal opinion in the classroom more often. Today, Mark has learned to read and write, comes to class prepared, and has started making friends with his classmates. With the support of Rudolf and his other teachers, Mark has become an engaged student who feels more deeply integrated in school.

Learn more about International Literacy Day.