UHV alumna receives bilingual teaching honor
Yonghui Wang builds bridges through bilingual instruction – a talent recently recognized by the middle school office of the Houston Independent School District, which named her Bilingual Teacher of the Year.
“This award is a huge honor to me. It also encourages my continued commitment and dedication to support my linguistically and culturally diverse students,” said Wang, a University of Houston-Victoria alumna who also teaches kindergarten Chinese, math and science at the Mandarin Immersion Magnet School in Houston.
Wang is well-deserving of the award, her UHV professors say.
“She has exemplified what makes a successful educator in today’s culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms,” said Liping Wei, a UHV associate professor of curriculum and instruction. “The responsibilities of a bilingual teacher are huge, and the challenges are enormous, which makes her award especially significant.”
Wang comes from Fujian, China, where she started her education career as a certified middle school teacher in 1998. She has worked at the magnet school since its inception in 2012. She was named Campus Teacher of the Year in 2017. She also served as kindergarten team leader for three years and was appointed last year to serve as the campus induction coordinator. For the latter role, she facilitates professional learning for the school’s new teachers and communicates professional development opportunities and resources for teachers and administrators.
The Mandarin Immersion Magnet School is the first and largest prekindergarten through eighth grade, dual-language, public school dedicated to a 100 percent Mandarin immersion model in the state, she said. Students there learn Chinese language arts, math and science in Mandarin-language classrooms and English language arts, social studies, and reading in English-language classrooms. The school has a linguistically and culturally diverse student population, with 14.9 percent of students being African American, 17.2 percent Hispanic, 12.9 percent white, 43.9 percent Asian, 0.1 percent Pacific Islander, and 10.9 percent two or more races, according to Texas Education Agency data for the 2020-2021 school year. It has continued to be a high-performing school and stayed as one of the top-ranked schools in HISD. The school’s vision is “to immerse students in a culture-rich environment that allows them to become balanced bi-cultural and bi-literate citizens for the global economy.”
In 2019, Wang received a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from UHV with a concentration in English as a Second Language/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She credits several UHV faculty members with inspiring her during her master’s program: Wei, Diane Prince, Barba Patton, Hsin-Hui Lin, Paul Carlson and Lynda Cavazos.
Wei developed the master’s program from which Wang graduated. She commended Wang for being “an exceptional alumna” of that program. She also believes that without the support from the UHV College of Education & Health Professions leadership, the ESL/TESOL program wouldn’t be where it is today.
“While bringing a remarkable distinction to our ESL/TESOL program, she has set a standard to which our current students and fellow alumni can aspire,” Wei said. “She is always humble, positive and organized.”
After earning her master’s degree, Wang stayed in touch with Wei to share and discuss important matters relating to teaching, classroom research and academic pursuits.
“It's wonderful that we’ve developed a very trusting and long-lasting relationship over the years,” Wei said. “I appreciate that she sees me not just as her faculty advisor during her master's studies but, more importantly, as someone she can always talk to and rely on for professional opinions.”
Last year, Wang began working on her doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in bilingual/ESL with plans to become a professional scholar and researcher. As a rising education scholar, Wang regularly presents in regional and national educational conferences of such organizations as the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages and the National Chinese Language Conference. Her session proposals, “Content-Based Instruction for Young Immersion Learners” and “Beyond Static Testing: Explore Learning Potential Using Dynamic Assessment,” have been accepted for inclusion in the program for the council’s conference on Nov. 18 to 20 in Boston, Mass.
“My commitment to bilingual education and research motivates me to discover the most effective research-based teaching practice,” she said. “I am eager to gain theoretical and practical knowledge from every venue possible.”
Wang expressed gratitude to Wei for her academic support and guidance through the years.
“Dr. Liping Wei, my faculty advisor, left a continuous impression on my professional learning and teaching life,” Wang said. “The ESL/TESOL master’s program at UHV opened my eyes to the theory and pedagogy of bilingual/ESL education and the cutting-edge research in the ESL/TESOL field. Through the rigorous training and researching practice at UHV, I am fully equipped to support not only my ESL students but also my second- and third-language learners.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.
Staci Semrad, Special to UHV