I was, and this is actually true to this day, I still have friends who say, ‘you didn’t belong in any one group’ and so I had friends in lots of different groups. I was a dancer, I used to dance in the high school musicals. I was the editorial page editor for my school newspaper. I was a swimmer, I was the captain of the swim team when I was a senior.
Was there anything that influenced you to work with students with special needs while growing up?
That’s an interesting question. My interest in teaching was really cultivated by my high school history teacher. She helped me really turn around because I wasn’t really doing well in my tenth grade year. I had her for my junior and senior years and I just became a much better student because of her, and so that’s where that began. As to working with special needs, my brother has done that for a very long time… at first, it was very difficult and I wasn’t sure I made the right choice, but now I’ve adjusted and I really really love it. Like I don’t know, if somebody said to me ‘would you like to work in general education English,’ I think I’d miss my kids that need extra help. I’ve gotten too attached.
I think even when I was very young, I always really liked drawing and I always liked making things (like projects or anything that I could make); but I think I began to think seriously about it in high school when I started getting positive feedback. I started to get recognized for doing art from my friends, some teachers, and my dad. I didn’t think that it could be something I could pursue in my life until someone said that I could. I didn’t even know that it was a major in school because I didn’t have it in high school. It definitely came from people’s encouragement (like from my friends and family).
What made you enjoy art making so much?
I don’t think I ever had to think about that, but I think that when I discovered that it could be a language that I could use to communicate that was different than words, art became more interesting for me. So, I might have been shy when I was younger, and having this other language to express myself was something that was very interesting to me. Then when I learned about other artists and saw the ways that they would express themselves that were different from me, that caused me to become more and more interested.
If you could live in any other place in the world, where would it be and why?
New York is my first choice, but if I couldn’t live in New York I think I’d be pretty happy in Mexico City. It’s like New York, but it has public toilets. It seems like enough of a big city for me and it has a good vibe.
What type of kid were you in high school?
I got good grades, but deep down I was a fool.
If you were a student and had yourself as your teacher, would you meet the standards you hold for your students?
Ms. Xia is the new Chinese teacher at BSGE and she teaches eighth, tenth, and eleventh graders.
Where are you from? Shanghai, China. I was born and raised in the city.
What did you parents do? They are in China now. My father is a chemist and he was like a magician; he was able to answer any questions I had. My mother is a designer and she didn’t speak a lot, but she would take care of us. I grew up with two older sisters.
What was school like when you were in high school? I went to a specialized high school about 30 years ago. I remember taking a math test every Monday after school, because my teacher didn’t want to waste teaching time in class. It made me unafraid of any test. Also, the classroom was much different because girls could not sit with boys. We were not encouraged to date in high school. I knew only one couple in high school who secretly dated and no one found out until college.
What type of student were you? How would you describe yourself as a kid?
I was inquisitive, I liked school, I was interested in the origin of everything. I felt like I was pretty athletic and I would ride around New York. We would go to Central Park and do a lot of athletic things. A lot of my life was built around that, being athletic. I did a lot of work after school, I did ballet, basketball and other things. My high school was somewhat of a performing arts school. You had to choose the talent you had in 5th grade. They had theater, dance, orchestra, they also had a glee club. I decided I wanted to be in the dance class. A big motivation was that there was a girl in the class that I liked. However, I liked the class too.
I grew up in Buffalo, NY which is about 20 min. from Niagara Falls.
What were you like as a kid? What did you like to do?
I liked playing sports, I went outside and played every day. I also loved playing video games on the weekend.
When did you develop your love for science?
My 12th grade teacher was really inspiring but he was very passionate about physics and it showed in his work. He also looked like Albert Einstein, his hair was really frizzy, and I think he purposely styled it that way.
I grew up in Brooklyn, down on 19th street in the lower portion of South Brooklyn. It was good, because I grew up around all my family, my mother’s side of the family primarily. I grew up with six brothers and sisters, so it was a lot of fun.
Where did you go to college?
Pick one! I went to St. Francis College. I went to, for about three years, Long Island College Hospital for Nursing. I also completed my Master’s degree at St. John’s University, and I attended Queens College for my administrative license and degree.
Why did you decide to become a history teacher?
Well, I’ve always loved history, and I worked for American Express for 19 years, as an employee and then eventually as an administrator. And then I got bored with it, because I knew it well, and I decided I’d like to teach, because I used to teach some of the people in my company. So I decided to leave American Express and go back to school to become a teacher. I really enjoy it.
Where did you teach before BSGE?
Well, I’ve taught in several different environments. I taught, as I said, at the company, as a trainer, and I also taught at Catholic school: Bishop Ford High School in Brooklyn. I taught science there, based on my nursing license. I’m an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). I then worked at Newtown High School for ten years as a social studies teacher. And from there I became an AP for three years at Martin Van Buren, and now I find myself here at BSGE, which I love, by the way.
My family moved around a lot, so I grew up in a couple of different places. I was born in Pennsylvania. I grew up in mostly small towns; Indiana, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. But for high school my family moved to a bigger city, to Milwaukee.
Was it a big transition from living in a small town, to living in a bigger city?
It was, I actually went through a major culture shock. City kids are a lot more savvy, and they have a sense of maturity that rural kids don’t have, so it was a big change for me. But I ended up liking Milwaukee a lot, and I realized I like bigger cities better than small towns.
What type of student were you in high school?
I was a good student. I was quiet, I don’t think I participated a lot during discussions. I preferred to develop ideas in my head, and I was a little shy.
When did you begin to discover that you had a love for art?
I was pretty young, I was maybe around ten or eleven years old when I realized I liked to draw. And it was through regular school art classes that I decided that I liked it. When my classmates came over and admired my drawings, or when my parents noticed that I was spending so much time with it, they put me in specialized art classes outside of school. And I went to art schools for both middle and high school.
When did you realize that you were an artist?
When I was in high school I realized that this was something I really wanted to do, and I knew I wanted to move to New York to go to art school. The art world has been centered in New York for a long time, and the more I learned about artists and studied art history the more I wanted to come to New York. I spent my entire senior year just daydreaming about what it would be like to live in New York and to go to art school. I moved here after high school, and I went to the School of Visual Arts.