Physics major Jimmy Wu ’19 is used to playing multiple roles: during his time at Haverford, he was in an a capella group (the Ford S-Chords), an English-teaching intern in the Gobi Desert, a member of the flag football team, a tutor in the Mentoring and Student Teaching (MAST) program, and the star of the student-run theater group Greasepaint’s production of Grease. It’s no surprise then that Wu’s post-graduation plans are also multifaceted.
Starting this summer, Wu will begin to pursue a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, but when autumn rolls around, he will switch to studying remotely and start doing double time as a mathematics teaching fellow at the boarding school Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, as well as helping to coach volleyball and basketball at the academy. For Wu, this teaching opportunity is the perfect counterbalance to his graduate studies.
“I look forward to working a job where I can be up and about on my feet and teaching and learning things for their own sake,” he said. “At boarding school I’ll also be able to see my students grow in all areas—not just academically, which is particularly exciting.”
The ability of a teacher to have a meaningful impact across many corners of their students’ lives is something Wu learned to value while at Haverford. “One of the best parts about Haverford was that my professors and classmates weren’t just that—they were my research partners, physics songs idols (looking at you [physics professor] Walter Smith), castmates, and friends,” he noted. The intimate atmosphere that Wu enjoyed at Haverford is something he hopes to foster at Deerfield Academy.
“As a teacher at a boarding school, my primary role is to develop interests in my students, academic and beyond, and give them the courage to believe that they can pursue them,” Wu added. He interprets this responsibility as providing something of a mantra for all educators, and to that end Wu is oriented towards a career spent cultivating the interests and passions of immigrant students and students learning English as a second language.
“My long-term dream is to work with public school districts to better support and develop America’s English Language Learners and immigrant students,” he said. “During my education course on English Language Learners at Haverford, I had the chance to work with some of these students in an ESL [English as a second language] classroom at Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACTS) in Chinatown. They regularly regaled me with stories of their home countries, the epic soccer matches during recess at their old school in Syria, the countless bubble tea shops they passed on their way home from school in Shanghai, while also expressing their unwavering desire to celebrate a proper American Thanksgiving—turkey, stuffing, and all.”
“In the grand scheme of things,” he continued, “I want to work towards making America a home for students like these, who remind me so much of my own stories growing up in an immigrant family, and I believe the groundwork for this type of change happens through American schooling. As a teacher I’ll get the chance to make my classroom a micro-reflection of the kind of world I want to live in.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.