Noyce Scholar Profile
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: General Science
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Biology, grades 6-12, Science & Math, grades 6-8
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Fifth year or post-baccalaureate Noyce scholar
Name of Noyce institution:
Current academic or teaching status:
Master's of Arts in Teaching Candidate
School and school district:
Woodburn School District
As a child, I immigrated to the United States from Laos with my parents and two older brothers. We were amongst the fortunate to escape, even though we were not able to bring anything with us. My family settled in North Portland where housing was affordable, my brothers and I attended the local public school and were educated and cared for by kind and compassionate teachers. Since my parents worked all day to provide for us, no one was available to take care of me after pre-school. One of the teachers was aware of this and took me under her wing. Each day I would spend the afternoon in her primary classroom until it was time to walk home with my brothers. In her classroom, I was taught to be kind and considerate of others. I learned to speak English and got a head start on my education. After leaving a war-torn country with nothing, she gave us hope that things would get better.
Why do you want to teach:
I love to see kids learn and smile when they get it. I want to foster a sense of hope for my students by showing them compassion and consideration for their situations. I want to express my support of their efforts and take their feelings and needs into consideration. My parents taught me to respect and listen to elders, including my school teachers. I hope to translate this to how I would treat my students and lead by example. Using my experience as a student of more than 25 years, I would try to teach them common courtesy by respecting them and listening to what they have to say. Having experienced the struggles my family endured when I was child and my own struggles as an adult, I want to provide my students the strength to work hard and not give up. Life is hard. I want my students to know that mistakes are a part of life. Having the resiliency to bounce back from problems and setbacks in life makes them stronger. Learning from mistakes and improving on them, makes them smarter. Eventually, they will be able to explore more of the world and build from their experiences to make them responsible and productive citizens.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
My first experience teaching math to anyone besides my friends was in Oregon City. When I volunteered to teach the after-school math program at Mount Pleasant Elementary School, I didn’t think I would make a big difference to the few kids who attended. I thought it might be good for my business since we were across the street from the school. Also, it would be fun to help some struggling kids a couple of times a week. Surprisingly, I had no idea how much the students who came to every class really enjoyed it. I didn’t think it was my teaching. After all, how hard could multiplication and division be? The reality was that many kids did not know their multiplication facts. Math and a place to study was not a priority when they didn’t have a dinner to eat every night. Throughout the year, I ended up bringing food in for the kids before we started. Since it was afterschool, we didn’t always start out with math. Most of the days we started the class eating and talking about current events or things that affected them around school. Math was secondary to someone being there to listen to them, having them tell me how old and corny I was, and making them feel cared for. They worked hard throughout that school year to catch up with their classmates. Eventually, they were able to pass their math requirements on time and move on to the next grade level. On the first day of after-school math during my second year of teaching, both girls were there and ready to learn. I’m not sure if they were happier to see me or me to see them, because we all had smiles on our faces. Nonetheless, I was glad they were so enthusiastic about wanting to learn and to be better at math. We accomplished even more in the second year than the first.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
The Noyce program has given me the financial assistance and opportunity to teach my favorite subjects, while at the same time learn more about myself and my life. As a very grateful recipient of quality education, caring teachers, and the scholarship, I look forward to the time to give back to the society that took me in. It will be very gratifying to help build students’ confidence levels by building their skills in math and science. Both math and science lead to the ability to think critically and develop problem-solving skills. I want to teach my students to be inquisitive, to think, to evaluate, to process information, and to develop conclusions on their own. Students who learn these concepts can make better informed decisions based on choices given and the consequences of those choices.