May 9, 2017
Sean Pang’s strength as a teacher comes from his ability to build strong relationships with his students, in the classroom and outside of it. Getting to know students outside the classroom allows Pang to discover their strengths, which helps him engage them to become lifelong learners.
This is one of the many reasons Pang, a teacher at Rockville High School for six years, is this year’s winner of The Washington Post Teacher of the Year.
Pang teaches English, journalism, TV production and academic intervention classes. He was chosen from 21 finalists from across the region.
Colleagues say he is relentlessly dedicated to the progress and development of youth. He is optimistic, energetic, determined and a problem solver. He’s very involved in extracurricular activities, which he uses to create experiences for students to feel empowered. He coaches two volleyball teams and serves as the sponsor for clubs in creative writing, ultimate frisbee, anime and comic books. He’s also the sponsor of the Asian American Club and the advisor to the literary arts magazine.
In the classroom, he shares personal stories from his childhood as an ESOL student new to the country. He is able to form incredibly strong bonds with students, who often return to him for advice and guidance even when they are no longer in his classroom. He creates hope for every student, regardless of their level of readiness.
One student noted, “I love Mr. Pang because he believes in me more than any other teacher, and for that, I push myself harder than I ever have.”
As a National Board Certified Teacher candidate, Pang is constantly reflecting on his teaching practices. He believes that using a combination of Chromebook laptops and cell phones enables his students to learn with technology they understand and opens opportunities for student collaboration with peers and teachers. He is constantly taking professional development courses, and has led various workshops in technology and teaching strategies. He continually assesses student progress by analyzing data and adapts instruction to improve achievement.
He is the 9th grade team leader and has been assigned co-teachers to help with students who have learning disabilities. One is legally blind and another is legally deaf and hard of hearing; their cooperation provides for different teaching styles and leads to sessions where they openly share gradebooks and student work to promote equity and fairness.
Pang also revamped a summer program to introduce a group of at-risk incoming ninth graders to Rockville. He made it interactive, and enlisted colleagues to lead mini-sessions in science, technology and four-year planning. He met with students and parents, and he used the opportunity to establish a strong rapport with students two months before the school year began. The program was a huge success and saw attendance double from the previous two years.
The Washington Post Teacher of the Year awards are given annually to teachers in Washington-area school districts who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create exceptional educational environments and exemplify excellence.