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Palmer teacher encourages high-achieving students

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:09 PDT, Wed June 24, 2020

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

Andrew Wong is invested in his students’ success. Although an “old-school” math teacher by his own description, his approach remains timeless.

“Math is process-oriented, so it demands a lot of critical thinking and showing steps,” he says. “(But) I try to make it fun, lighten the moments in class and provide some fun things to do.”

Bonnie Zhang, a 2015 Palmer graduate and Loran Scholar, nominated Wong for a Loran Teachers Building Leaders Award. Now working in management consulting, Zhang appreciates Wong strengthened her skills in critical thinking and creative problem solving.

“He was so invested in our success,” Zhang says of Wong. “He made a mark on every student he taught. He led by example, and he showed us what it means to lead with integrity.”

After learning he was an award recipient, Wong said he was “a little shocked, humbled and inspired.”

“I’m just really appreciative of the award, and it’s always nice to hear from a former student, especially one of Bonnie’s calibre,” he says. “She’s a great role model for all our students.”

Wong remembers Zhang as a dedicated, successful student during her time in Palmer’s pre-advanced placement “incentive program.”

“Even in that group (of high-achieving students), Bonnie was a standout,” says Wong. “For me it’s really gratifying to see students take advantage of the opportunities that we provide and then have success and achieve even greater things, and Bonnie definitely did that.”

Wong also encourages extra engagement outside the classroom for students who show interest—including math contests and other opportunities for thinking outside the box. He remembers Zhang as a student who strove for those kinds of opportunities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wong says he’s missing in-class interaction and discussion.

“You learn a lot from just discourse with each other,” he says. “Learning is a social process, in large part.”

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