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Meet Kofi!

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Meet Kofi! Confident and charismatic, Kofi is a natural leader. He does his best work when he is working closely with others, whether on his soccer team or in his STEM classes. Quick-witted and curious, Kofi is always the first one to raise his hand to ask a follow-up question! He holds himself to high standards in all aspects of his life, striving for both academic and athletic excellence. Kofi spends his free time researching his interests or running drills on the soccer field. His friends and peers gravitate toward his welcoming and fun personality. He can get almost anyone to hop on board with his ideas! In his family, classroom, and community, he is a dedicated leader who encourages everyone to persist through challenges with a smile on their face.

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MEET THE ASSAN FAMILY!

Kofi’s mom, Afia, is a doctor, and his dad, Kwame, is a software developer. The Assan family loves cheering on the Ghana national soccer team together. Kofi’s mom and dad value education and serve on the board of the PTA. The whole family participates in fundraisers and community outreach programs to keep their classrooms and community in top-notch condition.

KOFI’S INTERESTS

As a focused, hard worker Kofi enjoys doing things that challenge him. He is passionate about soccer and jumps in to play any position at a moment’s notice. He also loves math and science, and he spends as much time as he needs to solve challenging problems. Kofi feels his best when he knows he has put his strongest effort into everything he does.

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WATCH KOFI’S STORY

HUMAN INTEREST STORIES

Each of the Fly Five characters has a unique story to tell. While they all live in the same neighborhood and share many interests, teams, clubs, and classrooms, they have different strengths, values, hopes, and ways of perceiving the world. The human interest stories offer students and teachers an opportunity to connect with the characters more deeply, as the stories are first-person accounts of an important moment in each one’s life. From coming-of-age reflections about family and faith to explorations of one’s place in their cultural history, these stories remind us of the ways we are all connected: through our relationships, our triumphs and struggles, and our ability to find hope and resilience no matter what challenges life presents.

KOFI ASSAN

Making the Team

My dad played soccer professionally for the Accra Lions Football Club in Ghana, and he started playing with me as soon as I could walk. Any time we have free time, our favorite thing to do together is go kick the ball around. When I started playing on a few different teams, we’d go to the field at the high school and practice every Saturday morning. He was a tough-love type of coach and wouldn’t let me get away with any shortcuts or mistakes. If I used the outside of my foot when I should’ve used the inside during a dribbling drill, we’d start the drill again.

“It’s a mental sport, Kofi,” he’d say. “Focus, communicate, and anticipate.” That was his mantra, and I always heard him saying it in the back of my mind when I played.

When I was old enough to try out for the top team in the state last year, Dad and I started doing double sessions on Saturdays. We watched videos of some of the best strikers on the Ghana Black Stars, the national team.

“Look how he anticipates where the defense will move,” he said as we watched the top scorer effortlessly weave around the opposing team’s defense and score. “That’s how you win,” he’d say before rewinding the video so we could watch again.

Before I ran off to tryouts, he gave me the green, gold, and red bandana he used to wear while he played. I tied it around my neck, focused and sure that I was going to succeed.

But then I didn’t make the cut. I was devastated. I felt like I didn’t deserve my dad’s coaching and wondered if I’d ever be as good as I wanted to be.

But my dad wasn’t disappointed or anything. He just asked me, “What can you do better next time?”

He grabbed a ball and told me to meet him outside. We ran drills around the yard while he asked me where I struggled during tryouts.

“Sprinting,” I said while I jogged behind him, breathless. “And corner kicks. They’re intimidating.”

At dinner that night, he outlined a plan to help me improve. On Saturday mornings, we timed my sprints. No breaks until my stamina was as good as his. In the afternoons, we drilled corner kicks.

“Play smart,” he’d remind me. “See where you need it to go, and get it there.”

Practicing so hard was exhausting and disheartening sometimes. When I didn’t see improvement, I wanted to quit. But my dad never let me.

“Do it for you, Kofi,” he’d encourage.

So I’d do another sprint, even when it felt like I couldn’t move my muscles for one more second.

This year when I tried out for the team, I was nervous. But I had my Ghanaian bandana tied around my neck and my dad’s voice in my head: “We win when we communicate. You play smart.”

I imagined I was running alongside him, making smart choices, and I made the second team. Making this team was about more than just getting better at my sport or having fun. It was about keeping a legacy alive. It was about playing the way my dad played—smart, astute, and as a team player. He’s taught me to learn from challenges and from my teammates, and it’s helped me in all aspects of my life. Playing soccer is a way to stay connected to my culture in Ghana and make my whole family proud. It’s more than just a sport for me; it’s a part of who I am.

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RESEARCH

  • Fly Five is designed with the awareness that diversity and representation is a non-negotiable aspect of social and emotional learning. Central to this curriculum is our cast of nine characters who are grounded in authentic storylines that represent diversity of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religious beliefs, family structure, socioeconomic status, and more. In creating the characters, we employed a careful, critical research process to ensure that their cultures, interests, appearance, and family structures are accurately and respectfully depicted.
  • Research for Kofi included an examination of Ghanaian culture, and the lived experiences of Ghanaian and Black Americans and their families.
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