Casco Bay High School English teacher Ekhlas Ahmed is a huge fan of Ellen DeGeneres – and Ellen is now an admirer of Ahmed. Ellen had Ahmed as a guest on her show this week, calling Ahmed’s life story “so inspiring.”
Ahmed told Ellen she used Ellen’s show to help her learn English when she came to America as an adolescent with her family, refugees from the war in Darfur, Sudan. Ahmed finds Ellen an inspirational and positive figure and was thrilled to meet the television star in person. Ahmed’s guest appearance on the show aired Thursday, Feb. 16. View it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57qI7JFvVIE
Ahmed wrote Ellen a letter to express her thanks and admiration over the years and Ellen was so touched by the letter, she invited Ahmed on the show. Ellen read Ahmed’s “beautiful” letter aloud. Ahmed said in the letter that she didn’t know a word of English when she arrived in this country in 2005, and got lost for eight hours when she got off at the wrong bus stop. After that, Ahmed vowed to learn English and studied hard. One way she learned the language was through watching Ellen’s show after school. Ahmed found the show positive and happy and an antidote to the negativity of the world. She helped herself learn English by writing down and memorizing the words Ellen said.
Ahmed went on to graduate from Casco Bay High School in 2009 and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine and is now working on a master’s degree. She teaches English to ELL (English language learner) students at CBHS – she is CBHS’ first alumni staff member. She also is coordinator of the school’s Make It Happen! program, which helps prepare multilingual students for college.
On the show this week, Ellen promised to sell in The Ellen DeGeneres Shop a “Celebrating Africa” calendar that Ahmed and her students made to celebrate the beauty and variety of that continent. Also, Ellen presented Ahmed with a $22,000 check from Shutterfly, a web-based image publishing service, to pay off her student loans.