DIRIGO STORIES: Teacher surprised on 'Ellen' enjoying her viral moment
PORTLAND (WGME) -- A Portland teacher is enjoying a viral moment thanks to an appearance on "Ellen."
Ekhlas Ahmed, a teacher at Casco Bay High School, wrote a letter to the talk show host last year to thank her for helping Ahmed learn English. Ahmed, a refugee from Sudan, came to Maine 12 years ago with her family. She didn't speak English and would write down phrases she heard on "Ellen" to practice.
The talk show host flew Ahmed to Los Angeles for a taping on Valentine's Day. During the show, DeGeneres read Ahmed's letter aloud, called her up on stage, and paid off her student loans.
"I feel like it's almost an out of body experience," Ahmed said. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around what happened."
Ahmed teaches at Casco Bay High School through AmeriCorps. Her program "Make it Happen" helps multi-lingual students get college ready. She's hoping her experience on national television with her role model will inspire her students.
"If you just wake up every morning and you believe in that dream and chase it. One day it will become a reality," said Ahmed.
Degeneres is also helping Casco Bay students. She is selling a calendar designed by students at Casco Bay High School in the "Ellen Shop." The calendar called "Celebrating Africa" features the different countries from which the students immigrated.
The store sold out of the calendars and the proceeds will go to a nonprofit that helps build schools in Africa.