Thank You, Ms. Hong

Margaret Lin

Though the abrasive 8:00 a.m. bell usually marks the beginning of another toiling school day for most Apaches, a symphony of brass notes and streaming sunlight herald sleepy students into first period Pre-Calculus Honors each and every morning. A nondescript classroom tucked away in a far corner of campus, J-110 is the domain of one Ms. Jean Hong. With a head of flyaway gray and pink curls, wide rimmed glasses, and at least one piece of denim clothing on any given day, Ms. Hong looks just slightly out of place from the rest of her classroom.

The Pre-Calculus Honors rumors propagated by upperclassmen, who had taken and survived the course, to warn unsuspecting underclassmen are instantly dispelled when one takes a seat in Ms. Hong’s class. Simplifying pages of reading into a single page of notes, her lessons are often concluded with time to spare for homework or additional questions. A teacher who understands many of her students are taking Advanced Placement and Honors courses, she lightens their workload to a bare minimum and even occasionally allows them to use her first period as a study hall. That is not to say her class is so easy that one can pass by sleeping through all her lessons and assignments. Professing that she “caters to the general public” in response to students who jokingly complain her tests are too hard, Ms. Hong designs her exams to be difficult enough that achieving full marks is just out of reach but not so difficult that they’ll leave her students traumatized and in tears. After each exam, she deftly dissects and disarms the most difficult problems, demonstrating to her students that the complex can actually be quite simple if one doesn’t overthink. Though she steadfastly sticks to her claim, Ms. Hong never hesitates to accommodate the two ends of the bell curve, patiently explaining problems and concepts to those who require a little extra assistance or finding more advanced problems for those who feel they aren’t being challenged by her course material.

Nearly every day, guffaws of laughter can be heard through the thin walls partitioning her classroom from neighboring ones. Breaking from the stereotype of uptight instructors, Ms. Hong banters with her students, delivering the occasional playful jab towards particularly rowdy students to the delight of her enraptured audience. Though she readily participates in her charges’ antics, Ms. Hong still undeniably holds control of the class in the palm of her hand. Casual enough that her students feel comfortable conversing with her, but still professional enough that she commands their respect, Ms. Hong’s relationship with her students exemplifies what it means to have a good student-teacher dynamic.

Dedicated in her instruction but also invested in forging connections with students, Ms. Hong brings an excitement to math that would be difficult to find in another teacher’s class. With the guarantee of freshness each new day, attending Ms. Hong’s class is truly a joy each and every day.

-Margaret Lin, 10, Pow Wow, Academics Editor