Kia Educator of the Month for January 2013

Anh T. Hoang, Murray Language Academy

(Hoang joined by Melissa Voss, Regional Marketing Manager of Kia Motors, in the photo below)

Anh T. Hoang, Murray Language Academy

How long have you been teaching? What grade do you teach?

I’ve been teaching for about 10 years. Currently, I am one of the second grade teachers at Murray Language Academy of the Chicago Public Schools.

Why did you decide you wanted to be a teacher? Are there any particular teachers who have influenced you in the past?

My father, who passed away when I was young, was a teacher in Vietnam, and I learned about the impact he had on his students when he was dying. A lot of his students came to visit him in his last months to express their appreciation and share what he helped them become.

In addition to my father, when I came to the United States as a refugee, Mrs. Martin, my first American teacher, who taught the 8th grade, took me under her wing. More than teaching me how to speak and write in the English language, she advocated for my needs in the school and guided me to adjust to the new environment. They and the teachers who dedicated countless hours to help me learn inspired me to become a teacher.

Describe your favorite teaching memory or experience.

Of course, there are so many memories. A few years ago, a student arrived in my class with so much apprehension. He was new to the school and his father was dying from cancer. His mother had met with me to inform me of her child’s needs and worries. A month into the school year, the student’s father passed away. It was an extremely difficult time for my student and his family. I reached out to offer my support. I made time to share with my student and his family that I, too, had lost my father when I was roughly the student’s age. We shared fond memories of our fathers, and I reassured him that everything would work out. He would tell me at times that his father and mine might be talking to each other, and that they are watching to make sure we are OK. This experience affected me profoundly. It reaffirms my belief in working to make lives better.

How do teachers/educators impact the lives of their students? What do you hope that you personally can do to have a positive impact on the students you work with?

The impact of teachers in the lives of their students involves not only academic skills but also the development of the students holistically. More than any one subject or lesson, I hope to be a good role model and to impart on my students a lifelong love of learning and the importance in our interconnected world of a quality education. I want my students to love themselves and to respect people’s differences. I want them to learn to work cooperatively with all people. I teach my students that we don’t always agree on everything, but that if we find a common ground to work together, we can accomplish our task.

Describe how your professional role has made an impact thus far. What goals, if any, have you set in an effort to make even more of a difference in the future?

As my students progress into higher grades, I can see that I helped them achieve in the second grade a solid foundation that has served them well. But more than providing my students with a solid foundation on which they can build their learning, I wanted my students to always be inspired to learn about themselves and the world in which they live, to reach out to build community with students who might have different viewpoints or learning styles. Whenever a student returns to class the next day to tell me that what I had taught them earlier had prompted them to research and learn more about that topic, it always makes me smile.

One of our classroom challenges is to continue to meet the individual needs of students while keeping the whole classroom on pace with the curriculum. The challenges of large class size and the increasing percentage of students being identified with special needs have led me to continue to focus on learning more about special education in order to better serve students with special needs.

If your students could end each school year having learned only one thing, what would you want that to be?

As I mentioned earlier, it is important for students to understand the diversity of the world, and I hope the year they spend with me in the second grade will inspire them to reach out and collaborate with people from many backgrounds.

What was your reaction when you learned that you were nominated, and then when you were selected as the Kia Educator of the Month?

At first, I was surprised and a little embarrassed to be publicly honored. There are so many teachers who spend countless hours making a difference for their students and are not recognized. So I’m honored and humbled by the recognition.

As Teacher of the Month, how will you spend your $1,000 award money?

Many books in my classroom library that are loved and utilized daily by students and myself need to be replaced. Equally important, I want to enrich my classroom with technology improvements to enhance the learning experience for my students.