Warriors You Should Know – Robin Chang

This week’s “Warrior You Should Know” is another new teacher from the Social Studies Department. Robin Chang teaches World Geography and Government at WVHS and also travels between Waubonsie and Neuqua each day. You can find Robin teaching here during 4th – 8th periods. I have been in Robin’s classroom and have observed the interaction that she has with the students. Her students are excited to learn and they love to collaborate with each other. While this is Robin’s first year here at Waubonsie Valley, it is her second year in the classroom. She loves WV and is excited to continue being a Warrior.

I asked Robin some questions so we can all get to know her better.

Where did you go to high school?

I went to high school at Downers Grove South, Go Mustangs!

Where did you go to college?

I went to the University of Iowa. Go Hawkeyes! I think all of our seniors who are attending Iowa in the fall made the right choice. Also, I am super envious and I hope they soak in all of the joy of being a Hawkeye!

Why did you get into education?

I think it naturally fit me, since many in my family are in education. My oldest sister is a high school teacher, my other sister was an adjunct professor in a college, my brother-in-law is a department chair at a high school, and my mom teaches piano. Education and the value of learning and growing has been an essential part of my growing up and development. I think when the time came for me to decide what I could contribute, that felt like a natural answer to me. It wasn’t until halfway through college until I realized this, however! Before that, I was a cinema and cinematography major. I still love film and film production as a hobby!

Where do you get inspiration from?

It’s everywhere around me. As a new teacher I am soaking in everything that I can. I’m inspired in different and new ways every day by my colleagues, my boss, and in particular my students themselves. They open my eyes to new ways things can be looked at, new ideas for learning opportunities, and just generally what they’re curious to learn about. Also, of course, my family and friends around me (lots of teacher friends!).

What is your favorite Warrior memory?

I think taking Youth & Government to Springfield this year. Seeing our kids on the house or senate floor debating bills in parliamentary procedure – and bills that they poured their heart and soul into, and not just for profit and career advancement but from their passions and ideas, is so inspiring! It just reiterates to me (as I am reminded often by my students), how confident I feel leaving the future in the next generation’s hands. They are wildly smart and resilient kids.

Is there a student that you will never forget? Tell us why they were so memorable.

Parth Parekh – a student in one of my first Government classes I taught here at Waubonsie. Aside from being a wonderful, silly, and whip smart kid, he laser-cut a picture of the Supreme Court building and a big “Thank You Ms. Chang” onto a block of wood and it sits atop my desk proudly every day. What a sweetheart! I’m so grateful…you don’t forget that easily. I wish I could honestly name so many other students. I’m new enough in my career that every single one sticks out to me and has something special.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

Well, I’m typing this as I just dripped clementine juice on my nice white blouse…so embarrassment is sort of a daily thing for me! My student the other day laughed at something I did and called me a nerd, to prove my point. I can’t think of a specific moment to stand out because I guess I am pretty difficult to embarrass. I’m proud of my silly moments!

What is the current book that you are reading?

Ready Player One (the movie was fine…) (I need to find another to read! Suggestions?)

Do you have any favorite artists or songs?

I am VERY into music, so this might be a longer list than anticipated:

Current artists I’m listening to: 

  • John Mayer (his newest album is beautiful)
  • SZA
  • St. Vincent
  • Gorillaz
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Melody Gardot
  • Ella Fitzgerald

Songs to recommend:

  • Cranes in the Sky – Solange
  • May I Have This Dance – Francis and the Lights (Mrs. Donnellan Prusila and I sing this in the office a lot!)
  • Mira – Melody Gardot
  • Sunday Candy – Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment
  • Look At Me – John Lennon

Do you have any favorite foods?

I’m all about culture and embracing your heritage, so although I’m a foodie and could list too much, I’ll say dim sum (Chinese dumplings – think those little dumplings that get rolled around in the steam baskets on carts). Go to Ming Hin in Naperville for lunch! So good.

Favorite childhood teacher and why?

Mrs. Newkirk, 5th grade – she was a wise cracker, but always kept a jar of Marshmallow Fluff on her desk to “keep a little fluff in your life.”

Mr. Neustadt, 8th grade Math – I was a terrible math student and he made math not just tolerable, but fun and applicable. He also put up with middle schoolers making fun of his color blindness when he came in with one brown and one black shoe…sorry, Mr. Neustadt.

Mrs. Thompson, 12th grade AP Lit – Known as the toughest English teacher. She pushed us, challenged us, and didn’t mess around. Then one day she cried when we were reading The Sound and the Fury  when discussing the “loud world” of Quentin Compson and that was a really humanizing moment. I tried to hold back my tears to not look “dumb” while other students all sat silent.  I really felt like she understood the poetry and emotion in life in a way that I didn’t notice before that moment, and I hope to always have those emotional connecting moments with my own students, too.

Who do you live with? Spouse, kids, pets, etc.

Michael, my boyfriend. We have an amazing, dopey, and sweet puppy Boston Terrier named Ripley. (Full name: Ellen Ripley, named after Sigourney Weaver’s character in “Alien”)

When not at school, where do you like to spend your time or what do you like to do?

I like going to the city, spending time at home and with my family. Michael (my boyfriend) and I are huge game nerds, so we play board games or tabletop games or video games a lot. Going to concerts, trying new restaurants (that’s probably my favorite!), spending time with our new puppy, Ripley!

I dance hula. My dad grew up in Hawaii and obviously we share a lot of that culture. I’ve been professionally dancing since I was five years old with a halau (group) called Halau Hula O Puanani.

What are your future goals?

Go to Denmark and Barcelona. Become a better teacher every year/semester/day. Train my puppy to stop biting my hands, for gosh sakes. Make a cheesecake in my Instant Pot (who knew?). I like little goals throughout life so they remain attainable and relevant. The constant goal: to grow, to reflect on that process, to become better because of it.

If your department had to vote you, “most likely to…”, what would they vote you?

Hmmm… my department is still getting to know me, but I just asked Mrs. Donnellan and she said “most likely to host a talk show” or “go on fear factor.” Guess I’m made for TV?

Now you know a little bit more about Robin. Make her feel welcome here at Waubonsie Valley by saying hello the next time you see her or make it a point to drop by and let her know if you share some things in common.

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