First Student Graduates from COELEC Program at Otterbein
It didn’t take long for veteran educator Bev Good to recognize that Fabiola Milla Kimble has the heart of a teacher when the two were working in the Westerville City School District a few years ago.
Employed as an English as a Second Language paraprofessional, Milla Kimble made a lasting impression on Good, who now serves as director of the Central Ohio English Learners’ Education Collaborative (COELEC) at Otterbein.
“Fabiola knew instinctively how to work with students and parents,” Good says. “She was an amazing paraprofessional, and her skills were in demand across the district.”
Fast forward to 2014, and Good is pleased to report that Milla Kimble has become the first student to complete COELEC’s English Learner Career Ladders program that helps immigrants complete Ohio’s requirements for a teaching credential. The program is one of three initiatives funded by a five-year grant awarded to Otterbein in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Education. All three are part of an effort to enrich the educational process of students learning English in Central Ohio schools.
Milla Kimble, a native of Peru where she earned a law degree, finished her final class at Otterbein in May and successfully completed Ohio’s exam for a teaching license. She now is applying for teaching positions in Central Ohio.
“The COELEC Career Ladders program has meant the world to me,” Milla Kimble says. “It has been the difference between being able to reach my goals and not knowing where to get started.”
The program paid her Otterbein tuition, fees and other expenses, and it is structured so working adults can keep their jobs while completing their coursework. Milla Kimble, who has two young children, says support from the COELEC team, along with the loving help of her husband and mother, enabled her to complete the program and be in a position to start a career as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher.
She began embracing the idea of teaching after landing the ESL paraprofessional job in Westerville City Schools six year ago. Her decision was based in part on the struggles she had in communicating when she moved to the United States in 2006.
“I felt obligated to help the students,” Milla Kimble says. “I knew what it was like to come here and feel like ‘the other’ because there was so much going on and I could not be part of it because of the language barrier. I felt I could serve as an example to students when they get discouraged by a lack of progress.”
She found the work rewarding and quickly decided teaching was to be her calling.
“One of the things I enjoy the most about teaching is the ‘eureka moment,’” Milla Kimble says. “It’s when a student who has been struggling with a topic suddenly understands. It’s like you can see a light bulb turning on.”
She says the light would not have shined for her without the support of the COELEC team.
“They partnered with me every step of the way,” she says. “I hope at some point in my career that I can have the type of effect on someone that they have had on me.”