Angela Chan ’98 was first inspired to pursue teaching during her time at Haverford. The East Asian Studies major and Philadelphia Chinatown native began tutoring students in her old neighborhood during her sophomore year at the College. “It was then that I realized how challenging it was for students from immigrant families to thrive in the public school system,” she says. “I thought becoming a teacher would be the best way to make a difference for the most marginalized kids in the system.”
Now she uses the skills she gained at Haverford in a classroom at John H. Taggart Elementary School in South Philadelphia, where she teaches all the core subjects—reading, writing, math, social studies, science—to 23 third-graders. A big part of her curriculum covers habitats and the role pollination plays in our food and in sustaining wildlife habitats, so Chan thought a visit to the Haverfarm, which now hosts four 10-frame honeybee hives nearby its rows of fresh vegetables and herbs, would help her lessons come alive.
So on May 17, Chan and 20 of her students boarded a bus from South Philly and headed to Haverford. Their daylong visit included more than just a visit to the campus pollinators. They took a walk by the Duck Pond; toured the President’s Office; met with Shizhe Huang, one of Chan’s East Asian Studies professors; lunched on Founders Green; and browsed the Bookstore. During their time at the Haverfarm they visited the greenhouse with Aubrey DeLone, the farm fellow, and Jahzara Heredia ’16, one of two students supported by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship to work at the farm this summer, and harvested and tasted some greens and radishes. (More after the gallery.)
Chan’s students were already familiar with DeLone; she and Assistant Director of Facilities Management, Sustainability, and Grounds Claudia Kent spearheaded an operation to clean up their school’s front yard during the spring semester’s Day of Community Engagement. They and other volunteers from the Haverford community helped transform the urban school yard into a garden ready for planting. “My students really took pride in their efforts and truly enjoyed working with the Haverford students,” says Chan of the March event. “So when we visited Haverfarm this past week, they were happy to see where Aubrey works and connected that to the importance of growing our own food as well as what pollinators do in this process.”
For Chan, the visit was a chance for her to come full circle in her journey as an educator—bringing her students back to the place where she first learned to teach—as well as a happy reunion. And for her Taggart pupils, it was much more than just another field trip.
“I had hoped that a visit to Haverfarm and the beehives would help grow my students’ sense of environmental stewardship,” says Chan. “The visit did that and much more. It gave my students an opportunity to present themselves to the larger world around them, ask questions, have conversations, and confidently interact and develop a connection with others in a way that’s meaningful.”
Photos by Leigh Taylor