Learning ≠ Boring

February 3, 2023

Support The Next Generation of Teachers

What do you want to be when you grow up? This is a common question parents and other adults ask kids. In the past the response would be fireman, policeman, veterinarian, or lawyer. Today, the response usually revolves around technology; a coder for video games, YouTuber, or “I want to work for Facebook.” What you do not commonly hear is “I want to be a teacher.” According to the National Education Association schools are facing a shortage of 300,000 teachers and staff across the United States. 

Not all kids are analytical – a typical trait of someone who works in tech, and not all are willing to bare their souls to become social media influencers. Kids, though, should be encouraged to follow their passion and do work that will make them happy. They can be encouraged to seek out a rewarding career in education as a teacher, counselor or administrator, which are all accessible options.  

Ken Lee grew up in North Beach and has worked 30 years for the San Francisco Unified School District. He never intended to work as a teacher. He had a couple of false starts searching for a job that he could turn into a career such as a government position in transportation before deciding to try to work for the public school system. Thirty years later, Ken progressed from teacher to dean to counselor, vice principal and eventually became the principal of the middle school he himself attended as a child. In fact, his service to the school had so much impact that they named the intersecting section of the main hallway at Francisco Middle School as Kenneth Lee Square. 

“I never intended to work in the school system but now I can’t imagine what else I could have done that would be as rewarding.” Ken Lee said. 

Teaching and working in the educational system aren’t promoted as a top career choice for the youth and yet it is very much a viable option. Vivian Wong also grew up in North Beach and worked at TEL HI in the After School Academy while she worked towards a degree. She decided to get into the educational field after she completed her undergraduate. “After undergrad, I did not know what I wanted to do with my communications degree,” Vivian said. “I thought long and hard about what would make me feel fulfilled in life. To me, it was important to find something that I would enjoy doing and supporting youth has always felt rewarding to me. “

TEL HI is doing its part to encourage students to consider the educational field by making learning fun! TEL HI’s STEAM program (STEM with the addition of the letter A for arts) turns the learning process from memorization and calculating numbers to an experience where kids can build robots, learn how to fly drones, and create things out of cardboard. STEM/STEAM educators work with the youth to build skills like creativity, initiative, communication, adaptability, and problem solving – all essential skills needed to be a successful teacher. 

“I believe that children are our future. For a great future, we need to have caring teachers that love what they do every day,” said Vivan Wong. TEL HI educators like Rebekah Foster, Jamon Tyus and Kim Du, inspire kids to discover their passions and think outside the box. So, perhaps the next time an adult asks a child “what do you want to be when you grow up?” they will respond, “I want to be a teacher.” 

Support the next generation of teachers! 

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