2020 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year on why she loves being an educator

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Cecilia Chung is a sixth grade teacher at Kaimiloa Elementary School. She has worked as a technology integration coach in the past and led workshops for teachers at a variety of conferences. She was recently recognized as the 2020 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year and will represent Hawaii in the National State Teacher of the Year Program.

Before becoming a teacher, Chung had a long list of experiences in her senior year of college that all had to do with education that ranged from tutoring kids in Chinatown to working at an educational app company. She decided to begin her teaching journey through the Teach for America program and get her Masters in Education.

“The moment that I realized I wanted to be a teacher was actually in my first year of teaching when a student wrote me a thank you note. It was such a simple note but it really made a difference in me,” Chung explains. “It made me realize I was in a job, a very challenging job, that was worthwhile because it helped others.”

For Chung, teaching is a science and an art. It’s a profession that requires a lot of heart, hard and thoughtful work and research. She says the most challenging thing about the profession is feeling alone in it.

“As teachers, if we choose to stay within our classroom walls, it can be challenging,” she says. “Teaching is creative and alive. It’s something that asks us to connect with others — to go deeper so that kids can get the best that they deserve.”

Chung says the most rewarding thing about her job is every moment a child smiles or realizes they learned something.

“There is no greater profession… there is so much impact we can have on another person,” she says. “I’ve also found that there are many teachers who want to connect and collaborate across the state. This gives me hope and makes this job very rewarding — that we’re part of a larger mission together with teachers all over the state, and the world, to grow our students.”

Chung recommends a major in education to anyone interested, and she tells her students that teaching is a special and wonderful career.

“The most important thing for all people who fall in love with teaching is to be vulnerable and connect to others,” she says. “We are so much stronger together, but we have to reach out. For people like me who don’t naturally connect out loud to people, we have platforms like social media to connect with and to tell our stories on — the true stories of teaching.”

Be part of a movement that will make a difference in Hawaii’s future generations, and join Chung at the It’s Great to be A Teacher on January 25, 2020. Registration is FREE at bit.ly/IGTBAT2020

For more information: twitter.com/mschung808