(photo courtesy of Joyce Kim)

Olivia Kim, Editor-in-Chief

Since home was not a place of comfort for Teacher and Learning Facilitator (TLF) Joyce Kim growing up, school was able to provide a sense of predictability and security that Kim appreciated. Not that high school was by any means easy for Kim, especially as an English Second Language (ESL) student, but she was able to do her work with purpose and meet her teachers’ expectations for the most part. 

While she wasn’t particularly passionate about any subject in high school, when her father passed away during her junior year, her English teacher encouraged her to write about it. This consequently led her to finding a whole new meaning in English class and education in general. During her senior year as she sat in her Asian American Literature class, for the first time she was excited to participate in a discussion about a book. She found purpose in the author’s words, and she discovered the life that breathed through the characters she read of. 

“It was perspective taking [that made a difference] … really seeing the world differently and discussing life in a bigger way,” Kim said. 

This was the first spark that led her towards her journey of becoming an English teacher then later one of Prospect’s TLFs, and on July 1, she will be assuming the role of Associate Principal for Instruction. At first, Kim never saw herself as someone to take on a leadership role; she always thought that being an administrator meant being someone who was charismatic and thrived in the spotlight. However, since being a TLF, she learned that it really means being able to collaborate with students and staff to improve curriculums and classroom environment in an innovative way. 

“I don’t know I think I’m still kind of speechless [about the fact that I got the position],” Kim said. 

While Kim started off her teaching career with a rocky start and a lack of confidence in herself as a student teacher, some challenging moments truly allowed her to gain important experience and a new perspective. She remembers when she got a job as a substitute teacher at a middle school for a woman going on maternity leave and that teacher locking all her cabinets that held the classroom materials and curriculum before she left. Having to create her own plan and curriculum herself, Kim started by asking the students what they wanted to do. 

Her students gave her honest responses about what they liked about the class and what they didn’t find helpful or engaging as well. Kim took this to heart and carried this teaching method of involving students with their own educational experience for the rest of her 15 years in teaching. 

“I was very nervous and not self-confident when I started, and I just kept going because I focused,” Kim said. “Even though in my head, the areas of growth were so many and so big, my students always inspired me to be better and to improve for them.”

Kim says she never strives for perfection while some of her peers may think so. She instead always works to find improvement in her teaching which she also aims to help other teachers do as her job as TLF and will continue to do as an associate principal. As TLF, she would work closely with teachers and record them giving instruction. In that session, Kim would have the teachers watch two videos: one of the teacher and one of the students to gage student engagement. 

She practiced this and different teaching improvement techniques alongside TLF Katie Page for the past two years. Page will miss working with Kim as the team of TLFs in the building next year, but she is ecstatic for the opportunity that Kim is receiving. She recounts her experiences working with Kim and what made them such a great duo. 

“I think that we are both very excited about innovating, and we’re also very receptive to other people’s ideas, so neither one of us wanted to bulldoze an idea through; we would both just get excited about each other’s ideas and let it grow that way,” Page said. “So we were just lucky that we both have kind of that trait in common.”

Page’s greatest memory of working with Kim was planning their equity conference for the faculty and staff at Prospect in efforts to bring up the conversation on race. 

“It was a huge undertaking,” Page said. “It took us a lot of work to pull that together, but in the end it turned out great.”

Not only does Page appreciate Kim as a TLF, but also as a great coach to her. She remembers one time Kim asked her, “What are you good at but not passionate about?” and “What are you passionate about but not good at?”

“Those are hard questions, so she’s excellent at helping people be really thoughtful, and I just appreciate her and her brain,” Page said. “What she will do is get you to think about the things that you are good at … and passionate about.”

Looking back, Kim thinks she really “leaned into courage” in going into education as a career and now taking on this role as an administrator. Moving forward, she hopes to make school a place that students will be excited to go to. Her plans are to continue steps to reintegrate students to  in-person school next year with a special focus on the freshmen and sophomore classes due to them losing key experiences in the pandemic. 

Kim is excited to develop collaborative ideas with faculty and staff to better the classroom environment for students. She says her colleagues and students always push her to do better and strive for more, which she hopes to accomplish in the coming years. 

“You’re never done,” Kim said. “Your learning journey is never done; I still have so much I have to learn and so much I want to do.”