Abington EA member named 2011 PA Teacher of the Year
Jeffrey Chou’s parents encouraged him to study pre-med as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. But while at Penn, Chou volunteered with the Free Library of Philadelphia to start an after-school program for local kids, then he began taking education classes, and signed up to volunteer in a 6th grade classroom in the city.
Through his volunteer work and classes, Chou quickly realized that he was meant to be a teacher. And he never looked back.
Today, Chou teaches 6th grade at Highlands Elementary School in the Abington School District in Montgomery County, and his excellence in the classroom has earned him the title of Pennsylvania’s 2011 Teacher of the Year.
As Teacher of the Year, Chou speaks with educators and education groups across the state, and represents Pennsylvania at national events, including the National Teacher of the Year competition in the spring. Chou addressed the PSEA House of Delegates in December.
Chou strongly believes in collaboration. He formed a team building committee for fellow staff at Highlands Elementary. Outside of school, Chou presents effective teaching strategies at conventions, mentors new teachers, and serves on the board of organizations like the Children’s International Summer Village, and the Bush Nature Center.
Talking to educators, he often emphasizes the importance of teamwork in education.
“The biggest challenge we have is helping students who have given up on themselves, when they reach a point where they think they really can’t learn anymore. And to turn that around you really have to get a lot of people involved,” Chou said.
Teaching 6th grade, Chou places emphasis on preparing students for their future in an increasingly global society. He introduces his students to new technology, helping to bring the world into the classroom through wikis, skype, podcasting, and other resources. He looks at teaching 6th grade as being a “jack of all trades,” but with tremendous opportunity to help students find and develop their own potential.
“The best part of teaching is when you have a student who gets that light bulb but wants to go further and really learn more about a topic,” said Chou. “You’ve touched their lives in such a way that they may continue that study, turning what began as a light bulb into a career.”