Last February, Artur Breternitz scored a 36 on the English portion of the ACT. That’s a perfect score. And while this is an achievement in itself, Artur’s accomplishment is even greater, because Artur is 13 years old and six years ago, he could not speak English.
Artur and his family moved from Brazil to the United States when he was 7 years old. He knew barely any English. His mother, Gabriela, can remember those first few days of school, when he came home saying the only two subjects he could understand were music and math. The rest of the classes all seemed the same to him.
Fast forward six years, and Artur decided to take the ACT for the first time as a seventh grader. Taking this college readiness test was definitely not on his radar, but on a recommendation from Duke University’s TIP (Talent Identification Program), his parents nudged him to think about it. They told him he didn’t even have to study, but should just take the test to know what it was going to be like later in high school.
They never expected him to make the top 100 in this program and be recognized nationally, much less earn a perfect score on the English portion. “I was surprised and happy when I found out about my score, but I didn’t think I was going to get an award for it,” Artur says.
Artur and his family believe his quick mastery and execution of this new language was possible because of the English as a Second Language support he received in the Ladue School District. In one month, Artur and his siblings felt completely welcomed. In three months, they were speaking better. “The teachers’ personal commitment—you can really see that they care about each of these kids,” Gabriela says.
Two years ago, the Ladue Education Foundation invited Artur to give a speech about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Scouts at their 2016 Annual Breakfast. This was an important moment for Artur, because he had only started to learn English four years before. But he wrote his own speech and delivered it to over 200 people.
“I couldn’t be more thankful to be part of the Ladue School District,” Gabriela says. “It’s why I decided to become a member of the Ladue Education Foundation Board. I want to be sure we recognize teachers, the ESL program, the district, and the LEF. It takes a village, and we have an awesome one!”