Founder & The ADS Story

Melissa Melkonian

Melissa MelkonianThe American Dream School’s founder, Melissa Meza Melkonian, had a long-held vision to start a school for English language learners and immigrant students. Melissa’s parents came to the United States as undocumented immigrants from Mexico. They worked very hard for little pay, a situation familiar to many undocumented workers and their families.

Because Melissa's family only spoke Spanish, she was quickly classified as an ESL student. It wasn't until the fifth grade that she actually started receiving ESL servic
es and began to learn to speak English. She was immersed in English classes and had to quickly learn a language that was extremely difficult for her. No support was provided; there was no "transitional" or “dual language” program where she could still use her native language, the language she knew how to speak, read, and write.MM Graduation

Despite these challenges, Melissa ultimately learned English, graduated high school, went on to college, became a teacher and later a school leader, and started a family. Melissa has fulfilled the hopes of her parents, who came to the United States so their children would be able to live the American Dream.

The idea for The American Dream School came from this personal experience, coupled with Melissa’s research done about the student performance outcomes in the South Bronx, mostly where there are large demographics of students with immigrant backgrounds who are continuously underserved in all educational settings.  Melissa studied at Columbia University's Teachers College, where she earned an Ed.M. in Educational Leadership through the rigorous training at Summer Principals Academy, a program that gave Melissa the tools she needed to plan, prepare, and execute a vision into a reality.Melissa traveling

Many immigrant groups struggle to achieve academic success. They are not provided with the foundation to achieve the American dream. Melissa believes that The American Dream School can help students achieve and succeed in two languages through a dual language model and balanced educational practices.

American Dream School

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