LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Kirstin Miller, who teaches math to high school students at the English Second Language Newcomer Academy has been named an ExCel Award winner in the Jefferson County School District.

Miller was honored in a ceremony at the historic Shawnee High School Auditorium on March 9. Many of the academy's 600 students were on hand to watch Mrs. Miller receive the Golden Apple.

ESL Newcomer is a unique school that is the first landing place for immigrant students, who are trying to learn English as they adapt to a new country and new environment.
Many of the students are survivors of civil wars or a harsh environment. Their journey to Louisville gives them a unique opportunity to get an education and a positive future.

The ExCel Award winner told the story of one student from Guatemala, who arrived in her class two years ago. Over the past 24 months, Miller said the young man has learned more than most students would learn in ten years.

In many ways, teaching the immigrant population in Louisville can be a bit overwhelming. The school has received twenty new students in just the last week. Miller said her class has reached as many as 37 students at one time.

Her colleagues said Miller has a well thought out approach to making her students fluent in English and Math.

In many ways, she is playing catch up with children who have had little formal education. Her principal said Miller can be demanding, but she's also compassionate in helping her students adapt to a new world.

Bryan Warren, of the Mayor's office on Globalization, said ESL Newcomer and Mrs. Miller are a model for Louisville in accepting new immigrants into the city and its economy.

Mrs. Miller said her students are "her heroes" creating a positive change for the city, but the ExCel Award winner takes on the qualities of a hero herself as she breaks down barriers both in language and social acceptance.