AHSC Honors Educators who Promote Diversity

Six outstanding educators will be given the 2012 Asian Heritage Street Celebration School Awards to honor their commitment to promoting cross-cultural diversity in their schools and community. The one hour award ceremony will be held inside the Asian Art Museum’s Samsung Hall on the day of the festival beginning at 11 a.m. Prior to that, there will be a reception from 10:30am to 11 a.m.  The AHSC school Awards Program, organized by the AsianWeek Foundation and sponsored by Target.

The public is invited to come and celebrate. Click here and register for the celebration:

Mindy Yip, a first grade teacher at San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley Elementary School, is a Chinese American who speaks English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Cambodian. She has worked as an elementary school teacher for 10 years. For the past five years, Mindy has provided training for teachers in Vietnamese-language programs in the Bay Area. In 2008, Yip was awarded the Milken National Educator Award, presented by Rep. Nancy Pelosi. She donated half of her $25,000 prize to her school.

As an English teacher, director of the Associated Student Body and coordinator of the Brotherhood Sisterhood Assembly at Abraham Lincoln High School, Christine Eng Leon has spent plenty of time planning and organizing events that promote diversity in the educational community. “She brings warmth and sincerity that inspires students and adults to be their best selves and to represent all that is good about Lincoln High School: love, commitment and respect,” said Eng’s nominator, Susak Akram, assistant principal at Lincoln. Eng was also selected “The Teacher Who Knows Students Best” by 2012 Lincoln seniors.

Loan Kim Ly grew up in the Tenderloin and graduated from Galileo High School. In order to give back to the community, she became a social worker in one of the Tenderloin’s youth community centers. After Ly received her master’s degree from Columbia University, she returned to her alma mater to teach social studies. She inspires her students, breaking down prejudices and giving all her students a chance to make a difference in their lives.

Tomokazu Morikawa is a Japanese teacher at George Washington High School who uses technology to engage his students. He is also the sponsor of the Japanese Honor Society, which encourages students to be culturally aware in all areas of their lives. Morikawa has worked at George Washington High School for over ten years and has helped promote Japanese language and culture to hundreds of students. Every other year, he takes a group of students to Japan for the opportunity to improve their language skills and engage with another culture. Morikawa arranges for many Japanese school group to visit George Washington High School and interact with American students.

Danny Quynh Nguyen, a dance professor at the College of Alameda, has been passionate about cross-cultural performances in the Bay Area for over 15 years. He promotes multiculturalism through dance to his students and community members. Nguyen and the College of Alameda organized the Winter Intersession in Vietnam — an opportunity to experience Vietnam through the medium of dance.

Jeff Bissell is the head of Chinese American International School (CAIS), which is dedicated to Chinese language and culture immersion education. CAIS has a number of diversity programs and teaches a global curriculum. Bissell is fluent in Mandarin and has spent years in China, developing a deep understanding of Chinese culture.

All Bay Area public and private schools were eligible to apply for the 2012 AHSC School Awards. Nominations were submitted by April 4, 2012, and the six finalists were selected by AHSC’s School Outreach Committee.

- By Fiona Deng