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Through Our Eyes

Reports from student journalists at Melrose Elementary, John Hopkins Middle and Lakewood High schools in St. Petersburg

From high school drop-out to high school teacher

Milisa Ismail, known at Lakewood as Ms. Samm, dropped out of school in the ninth grade but went on to earn her GED and a college degree.

Correnia Dennis | SNN

Milisa Ismail, known at Lakewood as Ms. Samm, dropped out of school in the ninth grade but went on to earn her GED and a college degree.



SNN Staff Writer
U.S. history and Advanced Placement Human Geography teacher Milisa Ismail, more commonly known as Ms. Samm, did not take the usual route to get where she is now.

Her first life-changing moment came when she dropped out of school in the ninth grade.

"School was boring and my parents wouldn't allow me to advance to my level, and I didn't enjoy the pettiness of my peers," Samm said.

It wasn't easy being a drop out. She worked at restaurants because she was raised in the restaurant industry, and at the age of 18 she tried enlisting in the Air Force.

"Even at a young age I was conditioned for military. My father was in the Air Force," she said.

But the Air Force wouldn't accept her because she has asthma.

Samm said she regretted dropping out immediately and doesn't recommend this path for others.

"I realized I made a mistake in a few months, but I didn't want to go back," she said.

After realizing her mistake she went for her GED.

"(I) decided to go to college, but I took the hard route," she said. "All my graduations I didn't walk because I felt like I didn't deserve to because I didn't complete high school. It shows a lack of stick-to-it-tiveness."

Samm first went to college to be an elementary educator but never actually became one. Instead she became a college teacher, then taught high school. She also has degrees in criminal justice, international business management and nursing; she always knew she wanted to become a teacher.

"I always knew I liked chalkboards," she said.

Needless to say she was a little disappointed when everything is now white boards and SMART boards.

Senior Brandon McCoy took her AP U.S. history class last year. He thinks that her unusual route to success helped to make her a better teacher.

"It made her lead her own life," he said.

McCoy described her class as "really free, not necessarily open."

"She was in tune to us being high school students and knew our struggles," he said.

McCoy said Samm, who he described as "awesome as a teacher," has a different philosophy in the classroom.

"She put education into our own hands, she didn't force it onto us, but in the long run that didn't help (all of) us, but it's real life," he said.

Senior Scott Lee said Samm's flexible schedule lessens the work load on students.

"She doesn't seem to care how you get your work done as long as you get your work done and (she) doesn't yell at you if you don't," he said. "The only punishment is you don't get your work done and you get a bad grade.


[Last modified: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 2:44pm]


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