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The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

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Humans of WEGO: From poor student to master teacher

SRC teacher Malko Odishoo’s surprising journey has led him to become a “fun” teacher and successful coach.
SRC+teacher+Malko+Odishoo+-+pre-haircut+-+stands+aside+his+Jeep.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Malko+Odishoo%29
SRC teacher Malko Odishoo – pre-haircut – stands aside his Jeep. (Photo courtesy of Malko Odishoo)

Malko Odishoo is known for his work with the football team, and perhaps his curly hair. Some people (wrongly) think he is a surfer dude, but this long-time Illinois resident, now a candidate for a master’s in secondary education, has a surprising past. He went to Elk Grove Village High School and played Varsity football and basketball while averaging C grades – but once he went to college, everything changed. 

A younger Odishoo models his longer hairstyle. (Photo courtesy of Malko Odishoo)

Odishoo attended Harper Community College first, and earned his associate’s degree. Then, he transferred to U of I for an additional three years, majoring in history, and minoring in secondary education.  

“Transferred to U of I, thinking ‘you’re going to need two years’. They told me that there was no possible way I needed to do three years. And then, the three years ended up being like the best possible thing for me, ended up working out perfect for me,” Odishoo said. 

At the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana (UIUC), Odishoo found himself challenged: he had to constantly study and put in the effort. But, he earned all As during his time at the university. 

“If I could go to U of I – and get straight As at U of I – being a kid who thought I was stupid my whole life, like, I can literally do anything. So it was like a really good learning lesson for me,” Odishoo said. 

Odishoo’s greatest achievement was doing well in college, graduating, and getting a good job.

“Only because those things are things that I was never set up to succeed in because I just hated school, I hated putting in the work. I was always more focused on sports and girls and stuff like that, you know. When I was in high school, I didn’t really care about the important things,” he said. 

Considered an outgoing teen in high school, Odishoo was friends with everyone.

“I mean, I definitely learned how to be a better person. Obviously, like immature like high school boys, like the worst, the worst species,” Odishoo said. 

Now, this self-proclaimed “average” student turned high school teacher is thinking about going for his master’s in secondary education, and wants to serve as a role model for students at WEGO.

“I was going to set up a meeting with Principal Dwyer, and then Mr. Egan. Trying to have them lead me down the right path in order to get my master’s because I don’t know anything about it,” Odishoo said. 

The climb to where he is now has not been easy, but Odishoo has accomplished his goals: when asked at 18 what he saw himself doing in 10 years, he spoke of earning a college degree and finding a good job.

Now, when asked the same question, Odishoo has different plans. In 10 years, he sees himself investing in his money, real estate, and own properties in Puerto Rico.

“Probably by thirty-six, I’ll probably have a wife and kids. Wow, that’s scary,” Odishoo said.

He loves working at West Chicago Community High School, though, and hopes to continue to do so for some time.

“The people I work with are good people. The staff truly are people who become teachers and are very good people overall,” Odishoo said. 

Odishoo heads up the Student Resource Center, which is dedicated to helping students succeed through executive functioning techniques, academic support, and consistent follow-through. There, he collaborates with Beverly Kilgallen and Blanca Ruiz.

“He is caring, listens to the students, tries his best to get them to the thinking, [and] guides rather than tells,” Kilgallen said. “He tries to model good qualities in a person, and talks about how to become more confident, power of positivity, how to be a successful student.”

Odishoo is described by his coworkers as “fun, caring, outgoing, honest, trustworthy.”

Ruiz mentions that Odishoo is particularly “good at connecting with students and making them feel welcome at SRC.”

Odishoo is also a football coach, who helped the team earn their first playoff bid in 23 years this past fall.

“Athletic kids love him as a coach and look to him for advice,” Ruiz said.

When it comes to advice, Odishoo would actually tell his younger self to “drop the ego, be nice, and be a better person.”

And he would tell himself not to worry so much.

“As long as you work hard and put your mind to what’s important, everything will work out the way that is supposed to happen for you,” Odishoo said.

That said, he encourages his students to make “the right decisions”.

Odishoo celebrates senior Aldo Alfaro’s birthday with juniors Neftali Merino and Santino Milazzo.

Previously, Odishoo taught at Fenton High School. He applied to be a history teacher at West Chicago, but was told about an open position for a SRC teacher.

“My purpose of going to college wasn’t to become a history teacher: it was to try to like help students who didn’t care as much about school, like me, and try to make them realize why it’s important. And I feel like SRC is a perfect job for that,” Odishoo said.

Outside of school, Odishoo is a family man who two sisters, one of whom is also studying to be a teacher. His dad is from Iraq, and his mom is from Italy. His maternal grandma lived in Venezuela, a fact which he credits with his love of reggaeton (though he also listens to house music and EDM).

Up until the 2023-24 school year, Odishoo was known for his full head of hair, which he cut in the fall – something he had only done once between the ages of 19-26. His aunt and uncle own a salon, and a few months ago, they decided to play with his hair and bleach it, which led to dryness.

“I just didn’t like it anymore, to be honest,” Odishoo said.

His family and friends were excited to see him with a new look. 

“To be honest, I felt that Coach O connected right away because he’s a young teacher involved in sports and had long, curly hair. He told me about cutting it, and I disagreed at first. [Then] he cut it, and at first, it was a little weird because whenever you have long hair and cut it, it’s a little weird, but after a week, it just felt normal,” sophomore Carter Naranjo said.

Regardless of the length of his hair, Odishoo has left his mark at West Chicago Community High School.

“Coach O is one of the best people I’ve ever known. He gets along so well with all of his students and all of the players, he never gets mad or yells at anyone, but rather tries to motivate them and support them. As a coach, he is the most supportive and the most understanding. Being young and able to have that connection and able to relate to our situations makes a world of difference for all of the players,” junior Varsity football player Tommy Doyle said.

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About the Contributor
Giselle Cortez, Reporter
Giselle Cortez is a senior at West Chicago High School and is taking journalism for the first time this year. Giselle has a passion for soccer, but likes to bake in her free time. She is still undecided as to whether college feels right for her, but she is considering majoring in business to gain some experience in order to maintain a wealthy lifestyle with a happy family in a couple years. 
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