When you walk through a school, it’s usually pretty easy to tell who’s a teacher and who’s a student. However, here at THIS, there’s one teacher who seems to possess the magical ability to blend in. If you just walk by a crowd, you’d never guess that the cheery person chatting with students is actually the high school chemistry teacher, Ms. O.
Ms. O’s friendly, lighthearted attitude, dedication to teaching, and diligence is what makes her my favorite teacher. She’s very enthusiastic about teaching chemistry, and is always looking to share that passion with her students. In class, she’s lively, creative, and patient, stopping to make sure everyone understands, telling us unique ways to remember formulas, and coming up with cool lab ideas to make learning chemistry more hands-on. Her approach allows us students to become much more involved, and makes chemistry class a much more engaging experience in general.
I’ve never been a science person. I’ve always preferred finding a good novel to read, and I’ve also never been particularly good at any science related subject. So I came into chemistry class at the beginning of the year feeling a little anxious and scared (the rumors of chemistry being a very hard subject didn’t help). However, Ms. O’s passion about her subject and eagerness to teach really opened up my eyes and made me realize that chemistry is not just a subject we’re forced to learn in school – it’s the study of our world, and what holds our world together. Things got a little challenging at times, and Ms. O was always there to help, patiently answering questions and explaining principles. She helped me become confident in a subject I had never studied before, helping me realize that chemistry wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined and that studying chemistry is something meaningful and worthwhile.
Outside of class, Ms. O is easygoing, cheerful, and fun to talk to, which makes her just as good of a friend as she is a teacher – we’re able to talk about music, movies, and especially, share our doodles on the whiteboard in the chemistry classroom. She’s always very imaginative and has a great sense of humor, laughing along with us as we create our “masterpieces” in the time between classes or during homeroom.
As a teacher, Ms. O is enthusiastic, patient, and devoted. As a friend, Ms. O is positive, inspiring, and supportive. In the future, when I’m asked the question, “Who was your favorite teacher,” I’ll always smile because this question will bring back so many enjoyable memories of wonderful people like Ms. O who not only taught me valuable things, but also encouraged me to become a better student and person.
When did you come to China, and why?
My first year here was 2012, in September. This is my second year here at THIS. I came here because I wanted to teach internationally, and I’m also part Chinese. However, I’d never visited China before, so I took this as an opportunity to also learn about the culture.
What made you decide to become a teacher?
Right after college, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, so I ended up applying to a bunch of companies. I spent three years working for a finance company, but after a while I didn’t know if I wanted to continue that career, so I tried to figure out what it was that I really liked. I had always been involved with tutoring throughout college and I loved high school, so I think I found teaching to be a more interesting and meaningful job.
Why did you specifically decide to teach high school chemistry?
My chemistry teacher in high school was very inspiring, and I studied chemistry in college. When I thought about what I wanted to teach, it was the first thing that came to mind. It’s a high school subject, so I ended up teaching here at the high school. I always like high school students because they have their own unique ideas and opinions that are really funny and interesting, and they’re also more mature. I love watching everyone strive towards their own goals, and that becomes really evident in high school.
What would you call one of your greatest successes as a teacher, or what is something you’re really proud of as a teacher?
This year, every student successfully completed their science fair project, and that’s a success on both my part and the students’ – they were all independent projects students took on themselves with minimal guidance from me, yet they were all complete and well made. I’m very proud of all my students and their achievements in the science fair.
What is one thing you really look forward to in your future teaching career?
Continuing to teach but being able to hear about my past students’ lives, hearing about what they’ve accomplished, and where they’ve been. That’s something I really look forward to.
What is one big challenge you’ve faced while teaching?
As a chemistry teacher, students don’t always come in with a very positive attitude about my subject. A lot of students are scared of it, and hesitant to learn it. My goal is to erase the negative thoughts students have about chemistry and help them enjoy it more, and not find it as scary as they had originally thought. Sometimes that can be a challenge.
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