By: Scarlett Shelley
In the beginning of the school year, Oyster Bay High School welcomed new English teacher, Ms. Yen. Originally from Floral Park, New York, Ms. Yen has been teaching for nine years and hopes to have a powerful influence on all students. Recently, Ms. Yen agreed to sit down with The Harbour Voice, so that we could get to know her better.
Where did you attend high school, college, and grad school?
I attended Floral Park Memorial High School for grades 7-12 and went to CUNY Hunter College for both college and graduate school.
Where have you worked before coming to OBHS?
I started my career as a substitute teacher for the New York City Department of Education (predominantly in IS 145’s International Academy) while teaching my own classes through John Jay College’s Upward Bound program. I then taught for 7 years in the Sewanhaka Central High School district before coming to Oyster Bay.
What made you want to start teaching?
When I was deciding on a career path, I knew I wanted to help people in some way, and I felt like the group of people who would be most rewarding to guide were teenagers. Upon reflection, I realized that my teachers had been a powerful influence during my own teenage years and wanted to give back in the same way. As a bibliophile who loved English class and always enjoyed learning, being a high school English teacher—a job where I could share my passion, expand my knowledge base, and hopefully positively influence the lives of teens—seemed like the perfect option.
What age range of students have you worked with? Do you enjoy teaching particular grade levels/courses more than others?
I’ve worked with students in grades 7-12 throughout my career. Each grade level has its own perks, but I grew to love 7th and 9th grades most. There’s something about the enthusiasm and eagerness of 7th graders that I find contagious, and it can be a lot of fun to harness their energy and see what they are capable of. As for 9th grade, this level gives me the chance to see students becoming young adults and growing into themselves as readers and writers. It’s particularly rewarding when I’ve had students in both 7th and 9th grade.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I would say my teaching style combines scaffolding and support with a healthy dose of independent thinking, all conveyed with enthusiasm and some quirkiness!
What are your greatest strengths as an educator?
I think my greatest strength as an educator is my ability to be flexible. Learning can be a messy process, and I’ve learned that you need to be able to guide students through it and adapt to what’s happening/what they need instead of trying to get through a lesson or curriculum for the sake of saying you’ve covered it.
What is your greatest professional achievement? What is one moment from your career that makes you proud?
My greatest professional achievement happened last school year (2019-2020). I was teaching students who were new to the United States and were just learning English. A couple students in particular had a really tough time transitioning and grasping the language with all of the difficulties that came with the pandemic, being new to the country, and hybrid learning. By the end of the year, they were able to write and communicate simple sentences in English and even presented in front of the class. Seeing them adjust and feel comfortable after so much struggle made me so proud of their perseverance and strength.
Why did you choose to work at OBHS?
I wanted to work in a school that challenged and inspired me to grow as an educator, and after researching the school and getting a very positive impression of the students, staff, and community, I was sure that Oyster Bay was a good fit. I knew that students performed very well here, that I was coming into a very supportive environment, and that everyone involved in this learning community had very high expectations; with that combination, I couldn’t go wrong.
What do you hope to accomplish at OBHS? How do you hope to grow as an educator here?
I hope to inspire a love of English and a sense of curiosity at Oyster Bay. I also hope that my students discover their potential and understand that they are capable of so much more than they may realize. Regarding my growth, I hope to become a more well-rounded English teacher and build my teaching skills around different styles of writing, research, language use, oral presentation and discussion techniques, and genres of texts.
How do you plan to share your knowledge with the student body at OBHS?
I plan to do this through using mentor texts, providing models and criteria for success, and probing students to think critically with leveled questioning alongside opportunities for reflection and revision.
Any fun facts about yourself (unique talents, hobbies, travels, etc.)?
I am a fairly adept hula-hooper, I love to bake, and I have traveled to 9 different countries.
The Harbour Voice welcomes Ms. Yen to Oyster Bay High School, for it is always amazing to have new teachers to learn from!