2019 Arizona EL Student Success Story Winners

picture of Valeria Mendoza Marquez

Magali Bahena

Grade: 2nd Grade
School: Wilson Primary Schooll
District: Wilson Elementary District
Native Language: Spanish

From her teacher: Magali is truly a person of great character. Her kindness and respect for others is so apparent even at such a young age. She demonstrates honesty, trustworthiness, and compassion. Magali and her family are always involved in our school community events. She is always there to volunteer for jobs and/or help in any way. She always comes to school with a smile, always gives the best hugs, and overall makes my days (and I’m sure many other’s) so much better. I am so proud of her in every single way. I know she has a bright future ahead of her, and I cannot wait to help and watch her succeed.


picture of Houda Makansi

Angel Benavidez Amaral

Grade: 6th Grade
School: Challenger Middle School
District: Glendale Elementary District
Native Language: Spanish

From his teacher: Angel is a positive student in class and can best be described as humble. He likes to help-out his classmates when he can, and he will be the first to volunteer to help teachers with anything. Angel is such a kind and respectful student and I never hear any complaints or negative comments about him. Angel demonstrates true perseverance and does not stop when he is confused or frustrated and is driven to become better every day.


picture of Baraa Abedelghne

Yara Alzehri

Grade: 6th Grade
School: School: Guerrero Elementary
District: Mesa Unified District
Native Language: Arabic

From her teacher: Yara Alzehri would be described as a hardworking and dedicated student who always gives her very best to her work. She continually shows a determination and grit beyond her peers. Beyond her schoolwork she is a committed friend and will help her friends and family with anything they need. I would describe her as empathetic and caring as she helps her family read, write, and often translate English for them. When she finishes her work in class, she looks to help her friends at wherever they need. Yara is friendly and inclusive of all and she is always smiling. She wants to learn everything she can, she always has her materials ready so she can learn and has a book in hand because she loves to read. In a word, she is amazing! I think she will do something special and make a difference in the world. She is a bright, beautiful and kind young woman”


picture of Ruiz Barron

Heidi Del Rio Tirado

Grade: 12th Grade
School: Franklin Police and Fire High School
District: Phoenix Union High School District
Native Language: Spanish

From her teacher: This beautiful child, who has endured everything from abuse to abandonment, has the purest, most generous spirit I have ever encountered. She is bright, capable, and yet humble and free spirited. Her counselor acknowledges both her brilliance and her “fun-ness” in the same sentence: It is infrequent that you find someone who is as charismatic and genuine as Heidi at so young an age. She seems inexhaustible. She offers help without being asked and gives everything of herself if she can. She seems completely unaware how remarkable she truly is. She never has an unkind word to say of anyone. In simplest words, she lives what she believes. Where others make excuses, she made enormous strides, exceeding every expectation. Despite the challenges, Heidi continues to be positive and fun and perseverant