Sophorn Heak is well known to her teachers at Sanford Community Adult Education. It’s not just because she works hard. Sophorn goes the extra step.
“She never leaves class without saying ‘Thank you’,” says SCAE instructor Barbara Curran. Sophorn is also known for taking in a homemade treat to share with the class.
Sophorn, who is 53, is also remarkable because although she has raised four children and has a job she loves, she is doing something she feels compelled to do for herself. She wants a high school diploma. “I want it for my own self-satisfaction,” Sophorn says.
Math classes have come easily to Sophorn, and now she is finishing up her credits with English classes. English is more of a challenge, as she grew up speaking Cambodian. Her parents came to Portland from Cambodia, where Sophorn grew up.
Over the years Sophorn married, raised four children, and worked hard. When she and her husband moved to Sanford, she went to work at Vishay Sprague. When the company closed, Sophorn found work at Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick. She loves working there, where she is on second shift. This leaves her morning available for her classes at SCAE. She is hoping she will be able to receive her Diploma in 2019.
Sophorn says she has felt very supported by the teachers at SCAE, who have demonstrated respect and kindness. She says of her experiences with SCAE: “I love it.”
The feeling is mutual. “Sophorn is a friendly and genuinely kind individual,” says Barbara Curran. “Her interactions with other students is both admirable and beneficial. She is willing to share her customs and culture with them and is truly interested in learning about theirs.” Barbara also admires Sophorn’s desire to learn. “She feels there is nothing more important than learning,” Barbara says. “Whether it be academic or social. She has overcome many obstacles in order to achieve the success she has already attained. She welcomes a challenge and adheres to the task through completion.”
As for Sophorn’s academic goals, the high school diploma might be the start of something more. When asked if she plans to attend college, she smiles and says, “I don’t know yet.” Chances are pretty good some lucky college instructors will be enjoying some homemade treats, in due time.