ANCHORAGE – The Anchorage School District’s Russian immersion program will graduate its first class this year, thanks in large part to Elena Kostenko-Farkas.


KTVA’s Teacher of the Week helped create the program in 2004. Students start in kindergarten and continue through high school with the same teacher.


Aside from learning the Russian language and culture, there are other benefits to immersing yourself in a foreign dialect.


“A second language, third language, it’s important for brain development,” explained Kostenko-Farkas. “It really boosts kids’ aptitude for the future and provides them an available gift to communicate in a language and travel and be a global citizen.”


Students of Kostenko-Farkas said they love her passion and enthusiasm in the classroom.


“It’s been a rollercoaster of fun. It’s an amazing language to learn,” said ninth-grader Lauren Corkran.


“Even when we’re not in this class, some of my classmates and I will talk in Russian sometimes cause it’s just like a cool language,” said ninth-grader Michelle Evans.


Kostenko-Farkas came to Anchorage from Russia in 1992 as part of a cultural exchange program. Her knowledge of the language and lifelong love of teaching would turn out to be successful combination.


“To love the kids that you are with, I think that is the most important and the key to any successful teacher,” said Kostenko-Farkas.


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