LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Patricia Yu

Position: Korean Language Teacher
School: Centreville High School
School District: Fairfax County Public Schools
City, State: Fairfax County, VA

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Patricia Yu was nominated by Ilryong Moon, a former school board member for over 20 years.

Fairfax County Public Schools is located right outside the nation’s capital. It's the 10th largest school system in the country and the largest in Virginia. It's also a high-achieving school district, and the community has high expectations for excellence for the school system. FCPS is a very affluent district as well. However, it's also a highly diverse district, with students coming from every nation in the world and speaking over 100 languages. Furthermore, it also has a large population living in poverty. Diversity is one of FCPS's strengths, but the language, cultural, and/or economic barriers can pose challenges for many of the students and the school district. This is where Ms. Yu shines.

"Over the course of my career as a school board member and a three-term chairman of the board, I had met literally thousands of teachers. I can confidently vouch that Ms. Yu is making a difference in the lives and futures of the students she teaches and the other people she interacts with," said Moon. "Many of her students come to her classes with the desire to not only learn a foreign language, but to find comfort and advice in navigating their teenage years. Her classes are where they can relax and relate to an adult who is not their parent. Ms. Yu, being an immigrant herself, is keenly aware of what many of her immigrant students are faced with on daily basis. Her warm demeanor has a calming effect on students having a tough day."

According to her principal, Ms. Yu always goes the extra mile in supporting student success. She is often seen working well before and after school giving extra time to students. Her lessons are well-planned and always engaging. She is innovative in her approach to instruction. When visiting her room, you often see students collaborating and thoroughly enjoying the experience. As one of the few Korean language teachers in the county, she is often asked to support a student teacher. It's time-consuming, but rewarding, and Ms. Yu never hesitates to say yes. She sponsors the Korean Honor Society, which has grown in membership under her leadership. She supports a student exchange program with Korea, giving both Korean and American students a true cultural experience. Ms. Yu always takes a positive approach in her work, and she is well-liked and respected by her students and colleagues.

"She is the teacher her bosses in the World Languages office of the Department of Instructional Services go to in order to seek opinions and recommendations on the Korean language curriculum and instruction," said Moon. "She commands respect, not just from her students, parents, and peers, but from her superiors and, of course, me. I am happy and honored to nominate her."