Mintesinot Cheney

May 01, 2014

As school lets out for the summer, we at the Arizona Leadership Foundation would like to share a very touching story from one of our families. This story truly reminds us that providing scholarships to students, can bring about remarkable education success stories – the appropriate school environment can be life changing!


A Mother’s Story Mintesinot Cheney, was adopted from Ethiopia in 2005; he was almost three years old.  He was homeless, born on the side of the road in Addis Ababa.  His mother died when he was almost two and his father about six months later.  After being adopted and coming to Arizona, he attended public school for five years; he struggled with reading and math.  I knew something was wrong from Kindergarten, he just didn’t learn things the way others did, but he was not dumb.  The school offered no help, after much research I realized he probably had dyslexia. We had him evaluated and he did in fact have dyslexia. The school tested him and put him in special ed. classes, but I came to realize the public schools are not able to reach individual needs of every child and Mintesinot needed special instruction to help him learn to read.  We took him to a special reading clinic during the summers, which was costly, but he would make great strides, however when school started he would slowly lose all he had learned in the summer.

When Mintesinot entered 5th grade, he was reading at a 2nd grade level, inconsistently at 20-35 words per minute. The public school was going to stop trying to teach him to learn to read and have a helper in two of his 6th grade classes.  At my last IEP meeting I was told, “Not everyone learns to read.” I felt as if they had given up on him and I could see how this would set him up for failure and he would eventually give up on school and quit.

We sought out and found New Way Academy. We applied for scholarships and he started in the 6th grade for the 2013-2014 school year.  In just one year, he is now reading at a 3rd grade level and can do most of his math homework by himself.  He is making great progress and is getting mostly A’s and B’s.  Mintesinot loves being at New Way and is beginning to show leadership qualities. He is more confident and is realizing he is not dumb or lazy like previous teachers had told him.

Just before we realized Mintesinot had dyslexia, we adopted two more boys from Ethiopia.  They were nine and ten when they came home to live with us.  Our first year was a growing experience. Our two new boys did not speak English and they were trying to transition to new foods, rules and schedules. Most importantly, they were learning their roles within a family for the first time.  Multiple doctor and dental visits amid rotten teeth, giardia, tuberculosis and hepatitis created trying times. All these factors coupled with Mintesinot’s dyslexia pushed our new family over the financial and emotional edge.  However, we persevered and made it through.  The boys have been with us five years now and Mintesinot with us nine years.  They have all adjusted wonderfully and are doing well.  Our finances, however, are stretched with New Way’s tuition and fees and two more boys in braces who want the chance to play sports and do things they never dreamed of doing while back in the orphanage in Ethiopia. The scholarship money we have been blessed to receive has been much appreciated and has helped tremendously.  We are grateful for any scholarships we can receive and believe this money is helping our son achieve his potential. His future is brighter thanks to New Way.   Thank you!

The Arizona Leadership Foundation proudly provides scholarship assistance to private schools and Lexie’s Law schools throughout Arizona with no preference to religious or political affiliation. We believe parents should have a choice when it comes to the education of their children! The Arizona Leadership Foundation is able to offer scholarships through Arizona’s Corporate Income Tuition Tax Credit (CTC) Scholarship Program and the Lexie’s Law Corporate Income Tax Credit Program. These Arizona programs are education plans designed to help Low-Income families and families with Disabled/Displaced children obtain the best education for their children.

About New Way Academy
Founded in 1968, New Way Academy has a long  history of effectively and compassionately educating and empowering children with learning differences. New Way is the only K-12 private day school approved by the Arizona Department of Special Education to serve students with language-based learning differences. New Way proudly meets and exceeds state-mandated standards and guidelines.