Made me smile.

March 17, 2011

I wished one of my old high school students a happy birthday today via Facebook.

He wrote back, “Thank you Ms. Han!  I thought you would like to know, I have been reading : ) haha”

Made me smile.


2nd period.

April 6, 2009

I was looking through some of my teaching stuff from last year, and I started cracking up because I remembered my second period class asked me to name my first child “Second Period” so that I’d never forget them.  They were crazy, but I loved them (for it).

One of the seniors wrote the poem below and then read it to the class on the last day.  Catch a glimpse of some majorly undeserved love:

Ms. Han

I walked into school in a midsummer morning
Into a place & time where I will start my story…

You introduced yourself, made friendly gestures
You looked nice enough, not very tough
You sat behind the teacher’s desk
Listening & learning as if studying for a test

Skip several weeks ahead
You announce that something must be said
You’re going to be our new teacher
I was a bit skeptical at first
But soon my doubts turned into thirst
For the knowledge that you taught us
To allow me to speak my mind & not let it be hushed

I appreciate the things you’ve done
I appreciate the fact you made English fun
I appreciate the hours you sacrificed you know
To teach us about Wife of Bath, poems, & Quiz Show

It’s sad to see you go away
Hopefully we’ll see you again someday
I know you’ll be a great teacher in your career
Because you hold something everyone finds dear
Love, compassion, & a kind heart
You’re such a great person, I could write you a song
But until then, we’ll miss you Ms. Han

Glimpses of summer.

July 8, 2008

High School Students

As far as I know, all of my seniors graduated! Among almost the 90 who graduated, a handful are special education students, one is a mother of a 2-year old girl, one battles lupus, one has a parent who was diagnosed with cancer, one of them has a father who is sentenced to years in prison, at least two of them pursued sports (baseball & skateboarding) as youth to keep away from the gang influences in their family & neighborhood, two are foster children whose parents could not care for them because of drug abuse, a quarter of them live under the level of poverty, more than several of them come from recently immigrated families, and many of them come from broken homes. I was so, so proud of them.

Some of my freshmen (5 or so of them) played with the band during the ceremony.

Family (Especially the Cousins)

Rachie graduated from high school! She’ll be a Trojan next year!

Uncle Jim from Oregon (far right) came down to visit!

On July 4th, my dad & I took the cousins all over Point Reyes (North Bay Area). We climbed 300 steps to see a lighthouse, went hiking, saw old Native American relics, picked berries, played at the beach, and hiked the cliffs near Stinson Beach (notorious for its white shark packed waters).

He’s a kid at heart.

If I stumbled or slipped backward on this rock, it would have been a long drop down. After taking this picture, we decided there was a very fine line between risk & folly.

Visitors from SoCal

The Kim family came up to the Bay! We’re at the Chungs’ in this picture. Jenna’s here ’til tomorrow :]

Rebekah was baptized this past Sunday, the day after her sweet-16th birthday. God is faithful :]

Powder Puff.

March 12, 2008

I went back to the high school last night for the senior girls’ powder puff game against the sophomores.

For the past few months, these girls had football practice every day after school, plus Saturday 6am practices. I remember some of them would come limping into class every day. Intense.

Stephanie was selling the tickets in the booth, & Kristin gave the hand stamps at the door. Carolyn, Florinda, & Amberly were on the field with their braids, ribbons, & face paint. Maricela was coaching the guy cheerleaders. Kelvin was one of the senior cheerleaders. The guys sprayed their hair red, white, & blue, & they even had pom-poms (I’ll leave out the details about the skirts . . .) Aljed & Vernon were on the field; I think they just wanted extra front-row seats. Anthony was throwing a football around with a friend in the tracks. Wilson & Elizabeth were in the bleachers. Bernalyn was looking for a seat.

It was good seeing them :]

The girls gave it their all. They were down by one touchdown, & the quarterback was running toward the end zone for a touchdown at the end, but time was up. Ah. She was literally 5 yards from the end zone. They lost the game, & I spent my last few minutes at the school hugging the tearful girls. (I still think they’re #1 though.)

When I came home last night, I got this email from one of my third period seniors. It’s about half of us. I really wish I had remembered to bring my camera that last day. I don’t have pictures of the other classes or the freshmen. Maybe I’ll sneak a visit with my camera before the end of the school year . . .


These are a handful of the students some of you were praying for. Let’s keep praying for them ♥

(& judging from this picture, I guess I now see why the office aides would always look so confused when they walked into the classroom . . .)

Friday is my last day of teaching.

I’ll miss it.

I’ll miss walking to class in the morning & seeing freshman Adam waiting for friends near the parking lot, blowing into his cold fists & politely waving to me. I’ll miss thinking in my head, “Calm outside of class, bonkers in class . . . of course.”

I’ll miss approaching the classroom & seeing Jimmy waiting by the door, quietly returning my “good morning”, & not coming into class for another two minutes while I turn on the lights & turn on the radio.

I’ll miss the handful of students who begin the minute they walk into class: “Ms. Ha-an . . . I’m so tired!”, “I don’t know what to do!”, or “Yesterday was horrible!”

I’ll miss calling for homework, counting to three as the students yell, “Wait! No! My name! What’s the assignment number? Pass it up! Hurry!”

I’ll miss wracking my brains for a journal topic for the day. A current event? A deeper question about life? A funny, random question?

I’ll miss telling the students to take a dictionary for their bathroom pass & to learn a word before they come back.

I’ll miss hearing Jimmy & Jether “argue” about who dropped the chapstick & who needs to pick it up.

I’ll miss senior Adam’s randomness (“Ms. Han doesn’t get mad, she gets glad”) & songs about fanny packs.

I’ll miss mathematical Kirandeep asking exactly how many lines & sentences she needs to write to get full credit.

I’ll miss Kelvin, our one-man show, dancing to entertain us.

I’ll miss Sarah’s heavy silences, full of unspoken thoughts & feeling.

I’ll miss seeing Skye’s green Mexico Missions hooded sweater with a cross in the front.

I’ll miss Danny coming up to me with a scrap of paper in his hand, a newly written poem that he wants me to look over.

I’ll miss watching Julian go from, “What’s the point of this?” to intense, concentrated enthusiasm.

I’ll miss Naslen’s dripping “Awwww, Ms. Han”s during class.

I’ll miss Robert asking me to check his work every 5 minutes, dramatically complaining with a “C’mon Ms. Han, don’t stomp on my creativity!” whenever I correct something.

I’ll miss Rachel’s ability to put her heart to paper, touching the class with her words (& me).

I’ll miss seeing only Richard’s head lift up whenever I deliver a spoonerism or any slip of the tongue. He looks at me & gives me a “Wait, did you just say what I think you said?” look, as I laugh to myself.

I’ll miss shy Gieser trying to push his smile down with his upper lip & using his hand when he’s really trying not to laugh.

I’ll miss mischievous Josh & Adam, trying to melt my stern look with their “I’m innocent” smiles.

I’ll miss laughing at Kristen’s dramatic “You hate me!” comments whenever I assign something she doesn’t want to do.

I’ll miss seeing my candy box slowly dwindle away as hungry hands sneak its contents during class. I’ll miss labeling the last piece of candy with a note — “CANDY THIEF!” — & later hearing the guilty candy thief, Kenny, laugh during class.

I’ll miss telling Rene, the human jukebox, to keep his music in his head during class.

I’ll miss my break time visitors, Jackie & Jessica. I’ll miss hearing Jackie’s freshman-year school woes in her baby voice; I’ll miss Jess’s quiet, serious, “little sister”-like mannerisms.

I’ll miss Satvir coming in every break & lunch, sitting perched on the edge of a desk, swinging her legs back & forth.

I’ll miss Manuel’s updates about how his soccer team played in the weekend tournament. I’ll miss scrounging around to find him something to eat.

I’ll miss talking to Louana about cooking & sewing during lunch.

I’ll miss pulling out my Barry Bonds bear when the students are reluctant to talk during a class discussion. The bear is tossed from speaker to speaker. (Yes, the stuffed animal trick still works in high school!)

I’ll miss the delight of watching a student “get it” & then “love it” (e.g., with poetry).

I’ll miss enjoying the company of 120 students a day . . . each an individual, thinking, feeling, despairing, hoping, struggling, living person. It wears me out, but it’s a content-weariness at the end of the day.

I’ll miss being able to see their faces, being able to walk among them as I silently pray for them.

I guess, in the end, I won’t miss the teaching itself; I’ll miss my students.

Two more days of teaching. Two more days, & I may never see some of them again. But I pray I might yet see them (every single one of them) in a more lasting city than this one . . .

A “Successful” Woman.

December 20, 2007

The seniors are now reading through Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

In preparation for the prologue & tale of the “Wife of Bath” (a headstrong, opinionated wife from the town of Bath who declares she knows what women want most), I had my students interview 4 different people with 3 questions. The students had to interview a man 30 years+, a teenage boy, a woman 30 years+, and a teenage girl. One of the questions was, “Define what a ‘successful woman’ is.”

Here are some of the responses they received for that question from various people (name, age):

“A successful woman is one that has a good job & a good education.” (Betty, 18 )

“A successful woman is a woman that went through school & [is] doing what a man is doing. Always trying to strive forward.” (Donovan, 17)

“A successful woman is someone who is independent. They don’t have to depend on anyone else but themselves. They can fix anything that is thrown at them & deal with it. They don’t let others put them down.” (Andy, 35)

“A woman that knows if she were to die tomorrow, she would be okay with what she accomplished in life.” (James, 19)

“Someone who knows what she wants & is going to work hard to get it.” (Linh, 48 )

“She went to school & has a good job. She’s got money & is a classy woman. She has manners & is respectful & has a happy life.” (Mario, 42)

“She knows herself & the world around her. ‘Stay-at-home’ moms can be successful because they have goals that they have reached or need to reach. A woman who helps others & looks at the bigger picture in life.” (Anonymous girl, 18 )

“She feels accomplished & has dreams that [have] been reached. A successful woman has the irreplaceable people & things in her life, such as her family, job, & more.” (Frank, 56)

“Someone who is moving up in the world.” (Dennis, 18 )

“A successful woman communicates honestly in relationships. She does not bring up the past. She starts everyday brand new.” (Richard, 57)

“Oprah is the definition of a successful woman.” (Sammie, 16)

“An educated woman who is wealthy & happy.” (Betty, 34)

“A successful woman is someone who accomplished her goals without the help of a man.” (Ricky, 38 )

“A successful woman loves what she is now. She gives love to the people who love her. She goes on with her life even after a tragic event happens.” (Edna, 54)

“A successful woman is wise & reasonable.” (Wilson, 49)

“A successful woman has to have a rich man in her life who can buy her things.” (Ishmael, 18 )

“She’d be raising a great child. She passed her life down.” (Lina, 32)

“A successful woman would be someone that likes me. She knows I’m better than all the other boyfriends. She’d win the competition. She’d be happy forever.” (Brandon, 17)

“If you don’t have family to share your success, how successful are you really?” (Claire, 31)

“A woman who can look at her life & say, ‘Ahh that was fun!’ Life is short.” (Peter, 18 )

“Beyond through all these rubbish, Oprah is not an example. She is financially capable of buying her desires, but that is not important.” (Darius, 35)

“A woman who struck a balance between personal & professional life.” (Ms. C, 36)

“Not only does she have a job, but the job is one of the top positions.” (Inderjit, teen)

“A ‘successful’ woman is a woman that obeys God’s will & teaches her children to do the same.” (Jeannie, 44)

“Bluntly, a woman who is strong inside that will not let her emotions get in the way of what she has to do.” (Anonymous boy, teen)

“Was a leader not a follower.” (Sophia, 17)

“Someone who doesn’t get pregnant before marriage & knows where they are leading to in life.” (Janelle, 15)

“They have a lot of money with good family & job.” (Perlito, 54)

“Someone who has a husband who she loves & he loves her. & maybe a child or two.” (Lorena, 44)

“A woman that remains true to herself.” (Tonya, 42)

“[A woman with] a good relationship with God . . . someone who is humble.” (Colleen, 30)

“She just didn’t settle for being a housewife. She has a career & children who love her.” (Julian, 17)

“To have & finish her education. Then, going into a good college, & after, graduating. After graduating, you get a good working job. You then get married, have kids & with that good job, you are supporting your family. After all that’s done . . . you see that cycle go around all over again.” (Chastine, 17)

“If they’re dedicated to something or someone, then they’ll be successful.” (Conrad, 19)

“Someone who goes by her own rules.” (Alissa, 18 )

“Someone that is independent, a strong decision maker, & has good leadership skills.” (Kent, 52)

“A woman who looks 20 when she’s really 50.” (Bob, adult)

The majority of the responses (even the ones that I didn’t post here) had to do with education, job, the achievement of goals, wealth, happiness (undefined), & loved ones.

But this question still lingers – “What good will it be for a [woman] if [she] gains the whole world, yet forfeits [her] soul? Or what can a [woman] give in exchange for [her] soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

Who is the woman who will hear, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:29)?

A woman who fears the Lord (Proverbs 31:30 – see Proverbs 31 for details), who loves the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:5), who sits at His feet & listens to His words (Luke 10:41), whose beauty is from the adorning of gentleness & quietness (I Peter 3:3-4), who wins souls – not by her own persuasiveness but by His power (Proverbs 11:30; Acts 20:24), & a woman who teaches others to do the same (Proverbs 31:26; Titus 2:3-5) . . . a woman whose “children arise & call her blessed; her husband also” (Proverbs 31:28 ) & her God (Matthew 25:23; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

The above list is by no means exhaustive, but in short, as the Navigators say, ” . . . know God & . . . make Him known.”

Let’s not spend our lives chasing after the wind, pursuing things that do not satisfy. Does that mean we need to quit school, quit our jobs, & quit everything else? Not necessarily. But the point is not to pursue these things as of first importance.

Let’s not be deceived. Success is not defined in worldly terms; it is defined by the Creator who created us “in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10), the One who will one day judge our hearts (of Christ, or no?) & our work (for His glory, or no?).

A soccer game.

December 14, 2007

A month ago, I found out that one of my freshmen plays soccer for the school team.  In passing, I told him to let me know when the games were so I could go watch one.  I meant it when I told him, but I forgot I said it.

A couple Mondays ago, he ran up to my desk before class & showed me a medal he won at a weekend tournament.  The boys’ soccer team won 2nd place.  I had him show the class, & everyone clapped for him.  He smiled like he was 6 years old again.

Today after class, he asked if I was going to the soccer game today.  “You have a soccer game today?”  “Yea.”  “Where?”  “Here at school.”  “Good!  I’ll be there!  What time?”  “3:15.”

This is the student that I hear asking classmates for food nearly every day.  He’ll often come up to me before class when he’s especially hungry & say, “I didn’t eat anything today.”  Then he’ll hungrily eat whatever I give him.

I don’t know if he’s ever had anyone come to watch him play soccer before.

. . .

I forget to pray for my students.  I think I pray more for myself (strength, wisdom, kindness, etc.) than I do for them specifically.  But God is good.  He uses students like this to remind me.