Mai Shoua Xiong

Mai Xiong and her first grade class at Academy of Accelerated Learning school.

UWM Photo by Derek Rickert

When young Mai Shoua Xiong came to the United States from a refugee camp in Thailand, she had no formal schooling and spoke no English. Now a teacher herself, she especially remembers Mrs. Winter, the kindergarten teacher who made all the difference to the little Hmong girl who felt lost in class.

“She was so inspiring for someone from another country,” Xiong says. “Even though I couldn’t understand everything going on, she encouraged me and never gave up on me.”

After that, Xiong was sure what her career would be: “I knew I wanted to help children like me.”

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