LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — A Lexington teacher has just won a national award for her contribution to bridging worlds together, inside a classroom.
Yan Wang, a Chinese teacher at Dixie Magnet Elementary School has just won one of the US Heartland China Association and LingoAce‘s most highly esteemed educator awards called The U.S. Heartland Chinese Teacher Award.
Mayor Linda Gorton nominated Wang for the award, and teachers across 20 different states were eligible for the award as well.
Wang received the award on Saturday and she said her elementary class cheered for her on Monday when they heard the good news.
“This award is not only for me, it is a part of the Dixie family,” Wang said. “They saw me, and they said, ‘Did you win?’ I said, ‘Yes I did,’ and they were so happy, and they cheered for me.”
Wang teaches Chinese courses in five different class during the week, but she’s been building a Chinese learning program, since 2007.
Wang’s programs have helped over 3,500 students learn to read, write, and speak Chinese through the Fayette County Public School’s Chinese language programs. The programs are taught in four elementary schools, four middle schools, and three high schools, by 10 different Chinese teachers that she’s trained.
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Wang is originally from Northeast China, and English is actually her third language, having taught Russian in China early on in her career.
Teaching Chinese in Kentucky has had its challenges, but Wang said her students are gaining a global perspective.
“Respect the other cultures and more tolerant of other cultures,” Wang said.
Wang’s curriculum combines language with culture and content in her classes. For example, she’s currently teaching her students about recycling, while also teaching them how to pronounce everything in Chinese.
Her programs are also integrated into the Chinese community, where she says she’s seen how much it’s grown over the past 15 years.
“We’re American citizens, but the only difference is we also have the identity from China so how can we make the community better as a citizen and to promote the Chinese culture too?”
Those same lessons of diversity are taught to her students, and that’s what the award recognizes.
Wang says it would not have been possible without the support of the district, the schools’ staff, and of course her students.
“Today I told them without you I cannot get this award and together we make this,” Wang said.