Andy Kwok, a high school science teacher who let us shadow him during his rookie year (2007-08) at EXCEL High School at McClymonds, is leaving his West Oakland classroom and heading to graduate school at the University of Michigan. -Katy
It has officially been three years since first allowing the Tribune access to my initial journey into life as a teacher and all the mistakes that subsequently ensued. Having moved to the Bay Area from the Midwest, I was bright-eyed and idealistic after graduating college. At the time, I didn’t fully comprehend what I had gotten myself into, but in retrospect, I do not regret my experience with the Tribune one bit. I have enjoyed this opportunity to share a glimpse of my life, so that readers would see the difficulties that are present within schools while shedding light on an educational system that will continue to need help.
After three years of teaching, I have made the decision to leave the classroom and attend graduate school at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, my Alma Mater. There, I will be pursuing a PhD in Educational Studies, focusing on Science Education. Though I am temporarily leaving the classroom, I know I could never leave education after my experiences. Through the trials of behavior management, high school dropouts, and gang violence, I have endured a stress that I have never encountered and would never wish upon someone else. Yet, these students see such things and worse every day and thankfully many of them are able to rise above those obstacles.
Fortunately, there are periods of utter joy: seeing a teenage mother graduate, a gang member step away, and an athlete become a student-athlete. When I see graduates flourish in college and come back to share their wisdom with upcoming students, it serves as further affirmation of our hard work as teachers.
Though I am saddened to leave the Bay Area and the chance to continue
working with West Oakland, I am excited to make a more systemic change. (Note: I am not at all excited to go back to the harsh winters and having to buy a new wardrobe full of winter clothes.) These three years felt like dog years, but I have gained so much insight into the educational system and I hope to build upon it. I hope my new endeavors will provide me the opportunity to develop an efficient science curriculum for teachers or educate them on how to teach to the urban student subset and hopefully lighten their workloads, potentially resulting in increased teacher retention rates.
Readers, I want to thank you for your support these last three years. It has been such a blessing for me to share my thoughts and life in such a grand outlet. I still find it ridiculous that anyone would want to read anything about me, but the support and kind words that have been sent my way have been greatly appreciated. So with that, take care Bay Area and I know great things will be in store for you in the future. Go Mack! Go Blue!