Friendswood ISD has students who come from all over the world, and one of those students is Windsong fifth-grader Jovan Stojkovski. Jovan was born in Skopje, Macedonia, a country located near Albania and Greece, in 2009. When he was just four years old, Jovan’s family decided to move to America in pursuit of better jobs and ended up finding themselves in Friendswood, TX.
Despite undergoing massive location and culture changes, Jovan said he felt right at home. He said America feels so much like his home that it is now becoming more difficult to remember living in Macedonia.
“I don’t remember a lot from when I was young,” Jovan said. “But, my family still goes to Macedonia every summer to visit my grandparents, so I get to see where I was born.”
The family also holds onto their Macedonian roots by continuing to speak their native language.
“My family speaks it at home; we don’t speak English, really,” Jovan said. He laughed as he stated, “Sometimes my friends hear me speaking Macedonian and they get so confused and ask, ‘what does that mean?’”
Despite a little confusion, Jovan’s teacher Janet Tollette said the other students are fascinated by hearing another language spoken.
“He shows the other kids that it is cool to learn another language and it is helpful as far as jobs and communicating with people in the world,” Tollette said.
Jovan agreed, stating, “Knowing a foreign language helps you understand other people.”
Understanding and teaching those around him is something Jovan said he learned from his dad who taught him the value of education from an early age.
“My dad especially taught me the importance of education,” Jovan said. “He encourages me to study and does Khan Academy with me which is a learning website where you get to learn math and reading and other things.”
Jovan’s value for education can be seen by his teachers.
“Jovan is a very bright and hardworking student,” Tollette said. “He knows how to joke around and have fun, and he has a lot of higher-level thinking skills.”
Ann Moetelli, Jovan’s SEARCH teacher, agreed.
“Jovan is very artistic and expresses his ideas well with his artwork, whether that be a Rube Goldberg, a vocabulary term or traits of the left brain/right brain,” she stated. “Jovan is a very strong writer, which is interesting with English being his second language. Jovan remembers to use impact vocabulary and the mechanics of his sentences are spot on.”
However, perhaps the coolest learning experience Jovan was able to provide to his peers was a lesson on what it takes to become a United States citizen. After nearly six years and countless hours spent studying and filling out paperwork, the Stojkovski family became American citizens in October of 2019. Once Jovan’s parents passed their test, he too officially became a citizen and returned to school the following day to tell his classmates.
“The kids mentioned they were very excited and proud of him,” Tollette said. “They all thought it was really cool.”
“I believe everyone believes that Jovan becoming a US citizen is very exciting,” she said. “One of the things we talk about in SEARCH is that we want to be global citizens. Well, Jovan is a dual citizen and because he has lived in another part of the world, his geographic references are far broader than many of my students that have just lived in Friendswood or Texas all of their life.”
Tollette said she believes Jovan’s story could really encourage other students to live boldly.
“It’s been interesting for a lot of the kids, especially those who haven’t traveled out of Friendswood or Houston to learn about different parts of the world,” she stated. “These kids are from a different country and seeing what their families went through to become citizens of the United States and how they’ve adapted to live here. It’s a long process, a goal they had to work towards, but maybe his story will show other kids that they too can adapt to changes.”
As Jovan continues to grow, Tollette said she has no doubt he will continue to inspire others. “I hope that he will go on and do great things in this world, and I think that he will because he’s just such a hard worker, a great person and an all-around great kid.”