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Helping children learn is a dream come true

Pheng LorPheng Lor always knew he wanted to work with children. He realized this dream nine years ago when he landed his first job as a paraprofessional with Kluge School after graduating from Lakeland College. In his role, Pheng works closely with students for whom English is a second language.

Originally from Laos, Pheng and his family moved to Milwaukee when he was 12 years old, so he is in a unique position to understand and empathize with what children experience when moving to a new country.

“They remind me of myself when I first came to this country without any educational background. I struggled and could not speak the English language. I also began in MPS as an English as a Second Language student,” Pheng said.

He enjoys being able to help students tackle new words and translating content for them so they understand their lessons. “I love seeing them grow and how I can make a difference in their lives,” added Pheng.

Pheng said the best part about his job is talking with students and seeing their smiles everyday.  Most of the students that Pheng works with had no opportunity to go to school in their home country.

“They are so happy to come to school everyday. The kids are awesome.”

Pheng says the staff at Kluge are all friendly and easy to work with, and he would highly recommend the school to Milwaukee area families for its committed staff, strong specialized services and diverse community.

Assistant Principal in Charge Trila Pitchford calls Pheng a driving force for students receiving ESL services. “He really goes beyond what is expected of a paraprofessional,” she said. “He is here early every morning helping with lesson plans and he’s always learning new things. He does it all willingly, and that makes such a big difference. He is the consummate team player.”

Pheng attended Allen Field, Milwaukee Education Center and Riverside before finishing high school in South Milwaukee. Now with three children of his own, Pheng and his wife, Mai Xiong, are raising another generation of the MPS community. Their daughter, Kaylee, age nine, and son, Mason, age four, attend HAPA. Their three-year-old daughter Ava starts school next year.

Photo: Pheng Lor doing what he loves best – helping students learn.


This story is part of a series appearing during American Education Week, November 15-21, highlighting the contributions made by alumni, community partners, school-based and secretarial staff, district support staff and families to help Milwaukee Public Schools in its mission to provide successful student outcomes.

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About Milwaukee Public Schools

Milwaukee Public Schools is committed to accelerating student achievement, building positive relationships between youth and adults and cultivating leadership at all levels. The district’s commitment to improvement continues to show results:

  • More MPS students are taking college-level Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses;
  • The MPS Class of 2016 earned $51+ million in scholarships; and
  • MPS is home to seven of the state and nation’s top high schools according to U.S. News and World Report and the Washington Post.

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