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Wed, May 22

Q&A with Verde Valley Teacher of the Week Andrew Wang

A kindergarten teacher at Camp Verde’s American Heritage Academy, Drew Wang says that “with proper guiding, discovery learning can become a powerful tool in empowering students to become life-long learners.” VVN/Bill Helm

A kindergarten teacher at Camp Verde’s American Heritage Academy, Drew Wang says that “with proper guiding, discovery learning can become a powerful tool in empowering students to become life-long learners.” VVN/Bill Helm

CAMP VERDE – Drew Wang began his tenure at Camp Verde’s American Heritage Academy as the school’s sixth grade teacher.

As soon as there was a need for a kindergarten teacher, Wang requested – and received permission to switch assignments.

“Once he moved to kindergarten, he began to shine and I noticed a positive change in the kindergarten room,” says Stephanie Young, the school’s principal. “The class began to flourish and I could see growth in the teacher and the classroom.”

A lot has changed for Wang, who a year ago was teaching in Asia.

With 15 years of classroom an outdoor education, Wang says that his favorite part of being a teacher is “being able to interact with students in a caring environment where they are encouraged to learn together.”

A visit to Wang’s classroom is unlike most at American Heritage. Lights are dimmed, and soft, soothing music plays. Young says that Wang’s classroom provides a “relaxed environment” with “interesting lessons planned and the students are engaged in their learning.”

“Andrew’s strength as an educator is patience,” Young says. “He never gives up on his students, and will always try out new ways to help them succeed in school. His classroom resembles who Mr. Drew is: patient and calm.”

One of his co-workers recently said that Wang “has done an amazing job with the kinders. I see lots of success coming from that direction.”

Another said that Wang “seems to be right at home with that class and is so good with them. He is always doing fun activities and any time I have stopped by his room his class is so engaged and calm.”

Verde Valley Newspapers: Tell us about your teaching style.

Drew Wang: “I am a constructivist who believes that with proper guiding, discovery learning can become a powerful tool in empowering students to become life-long learners. I believe that students do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

VVN: Tell us something notable about you.

Wang: “2014 Teacher of the Year, Hou Kong, Macau, China”

VVN: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Wang: “If you want to be somebody, you have to do something.”

VVN: Tell us something about you that most people don’t know.

Wang: “In 2001, I was living at a Buddhist temple working as a project manager.”

VVN: If you were not a teacher, then what would you want to do? 

Wang: “If I was not a teacher, I would still be a project manager for a heavy civil contractor or a rock climber bagging peaks and first ascents all over the world.”

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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