ARISE High School

Grade & Subject: 10th & 12th Grade- English
BA, American Studies & Sociology
Masters in Education

When I first came to this country in fifth grade, I was placed in Mr. Nguyen’s class because he was Vietnamese like me. I didn’t know then how influential he would be in my life. Mr. Nguyen provided a safe home for me at school when home did not feel so safe. He was my teacher, role model, and second father. He laid down the foundation for what it means to be a great teacher––he held high expectations, showed tough love, worked hard, and had a great sense of humor. I remember telling myself, “I want to be a teacher just like him when I grow up.” And here I am.

As a student, and now as a teacher, social justice has been a continuous thread. I went to middle and high school in Alameda. My junior year, I came to McClymonds High School, and was shocked to see the disparity of resources between the communities. I learned first-hand about systemic oppression and the struggles that students of color face. This reality pushed me to graduate from high school, go to college, and come back and teach in my community. Now my students are learning critical skills to improve the material conditions in their own lives, as well as the lives of their families and communities.

As a proud Oaklander, I love what I do because I get to inspire students who look like me and who are experiencing the same struggles as I did. I look forward to seeing my warrior intellectuals every day. They are my teachers, and my heart is full whenever I see my students question their own realities and equip themselves with the tools to do better. My students and I are building authentic relationships. I have great hope that these brilliant and beautiful young people will grow into leaders, come back to Oakland, and make positive changes in our community.

I’m building a safe and fun community, where the learning is rigorous, and just as importantly, we are holding each other accountable as a family. Mr. Nguyen would be proud of me.