top of page

will jung

We Can't Move Forward Without The Basics

Interview conducted by Jakob Bower

why did you become a teacher?

Believe it or not, I became a teacher because I was a real big participant in band and I loved my band program. We were literally one big happy family and I’ll never forget the feeling me and my friends got whenever we stepped into the band room after school every day for band practice or during school during band rehearsal. My great band director, he left after my sophomore year in high school, and we got a new guy. Change is always met with resistance, especially with kids who are in their teenage years, but it’s one thing to just resist change because its change, because it’s different, but I really felt that the guy wasn’t there for us, he just needed a job and just happened to land his opportunity at my high school. He didn’t care about the program and needless to say, I don’t think that he was a very great teacher. It wasn’t until I saw something I love crumbling down before my very eyes that I decided: “I want to be a teacher, so wherever I am I can prevent this from happening to any students I get to teach.”

What do you like about teaching?

What I like about teaching is that I get to share these new things with my students. My schedule’s pretty busy. Not only do I teach Chinese, I also teach music. It’s wonderful being able to share new knowledge about something I’m very passionate about with my students. Chinese and music are something I literally practice and think about every day. Even though I’m natively Chinese I’m always striving to learn more about my own culture, the language, and all that. And whenever I learn something new, as nerdy as this may sound, I go “Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to share this with my students. I wonder how they’re gonna feel.”

And just the different personalities that I get—it’s never boring. Sometimes it’s a little frustrating, but that’s given. That’s almost part of the job; you’re teaching young kids. Another great thing is that I get to be a part of their story. Fortunately, I get to teach high school where hopefully I’ll have the same students for four years. And I hope that I’ll be able to leave a positive impression upon them. I tell all the kids and I tell my coworkers: when I first graduated college I just wanted to teach my subjects. But now, it’s less so about the subjects. You’re using the subjects as a catalyst to build character. After my first year at this school, I realized I was able to do that. You hear from all the teachers—it’s very, very rewarding to see your students grow like that.

How Do You Feel About Teaching At Millbrook? How Do You Feel About Your Classes, Your Students?

I feel very well supported by the administration. I feel like they want me here and any time I have questions and I need something they’re real quick to reply and get me and my students what we need. They understand that I’m tackling a lot balancing my Chinese classes and my music classes. I don’t feel like I’m just a machine being used. I’m part of a big family.

Also my students. I just feel so blessed and lucky that I have a crop of students that are just so… Not only do they actively participate in my class, but they’re just genuinely good kids. That’s not always the norm for all teachers and their classrooms. This is almost my fifth year teaching, and this is the first time I was able to teach without having all these disciplinary problems. I feel real lucky to be in this situation, in this environment.

Do You Feel That You Have All The Resources You Need To Teach?

At this point, I’m making do with what I have. Which sometimes in the situation that’s all you can do. It’s always nice to have more, but right now we’re just getting by. One example is in my music class, orchestra. A lot of our students are on school-owned instruments. The instruments are real old. Some of the strings haven’t been changed in years, some of the bows are browned-out by years of usage, and that affected our sound severely. I didn’t even know that until I finally got some funding to change the strings and bows for our cellos. We only had enough to change half the section, but it made such a big difference in sound. If I could get some more of this equipment for our older instruments, not only will my students be able to play at their full potential, they can contribute positively to our overall sound.


Another experience would be our Chinese class. We have a variety of books in the back from previous Chinese teachers for the students to work through. But it’s missing a lot of supplemental resources such as workbooks that I think would help out a lot. I’m lucky enough to have one, and I go through the workbook and I type all the questions and answer choices in a document to share with my students. If each student has access to a workbook, we wouldn’t have issues with students having to wait on other students that need more time, and they’ll be able to take these resources home to study. Right now, we’re making do with what we have.

How Does The Lack Of Materials Affect The Students?

We only have a limited amount of instruments and our program is growing. Next year we are expected to gain at least fifteen students, which will make our orchestra the biggest it has been in the past five, six years. Some of my students don’t have instruments at home. Right now we just have enough where they have enough to play during class. We do have extras in the back, but we lack strings, bows, and some are broken. Those students who are not fortunate enough to have their own instruments are hit the hardest.

If we are to have an environment where students are supposed to learn, they should access to the bare basics to allow them to learn at their fullest potential. Otherwise, it’s not learning. If they don’t have access to these books where they can take them home and practice and the only time that they get instruction and practice is in school, then that limits the amount that they can progress by half. Same with the instruments if they don’t have the instruments to go home and practice with. 

If we do have the resources for them to go home and practice, we can make the students feel more responsible and accountable for their own education. Rather than feeling like, “Oh, I wanna do it but I can’t because I don’t have the correct materials.” I’m only one teacher, and I know I’m supposed to go great things, but if we can get students to see that learning is a two-way street in that it’s cooperation with the teacher rather than just relying on the teacher, it can only help them.

Could You Summarize, In One Sentence, How You Feel About Your Need For Class Resources?

We can’t move forward without the basics.

bottom of page