Ukrainian high schooler is helping younger Ukrainians adjust to BDS

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Dozens of Ukrainian students are now enrolled in Bay District Schools. But some struggle to adjust to a new language and new curriculum. 

One Arnold High School Ukrainian student is now helping two third-graders at West Bay Elementary School.

After learning from Daryna Antoshko for months, Sivatoslav Mukhin and Sofiia Zhabniak met their tutor in person Tuesday morning.

For months the pair struggled to learn the curriculum, with different verbiage, in a new language. 

“My third-grade math teacher came to me and just said, I’m having I’m struggling with our new students from Ukraine in math,” West Bay Elementary School Principal Deniece Moss said.

Moss said she didn’t know anyone who spoke Ukrainian or Russian, so she turned to another outlet.

“I’m like, well I’ll take it to social media,” Moss said.

Her post was seen by Arnold Assistant Principal Jonathon Moore. He thought Antoshko may be willing to help.

“I got in touch with her at school and asked her if she wanted to help out or whatever, and she jumped right on it,” Moore said. “She was all for it.”

Antoshko began tutoring Mukhin and Zhabniak in November.

“I’m really proud of them and proud of myself because I’m a good teacher,” Antoshko said.

Over the past few months, Antoshko said the two have made big strides.

“They’re both really smart kids, Sofiia (is) doing really good in math.”

But there’s been an impact outside of the classroom too. Both students’ families fled Ukraine months into the war with Russia. Muhkin is from the Donbas and doesn’t remember a time before Russia invaded his home region. When the two arrived at West Bay, Moss said they barely talked and rarely smiled. 

But that’s now changed.

Bay District Schools is alleviating the situation. They just hired a Russian and Ukrainian translator. Tuesday was her first day working with students.

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