story and photos by Claire Miller
Ethan Trinh (M.A.T. ’18) lights up when he talks about being an educator.
“When I’m teaching, I put a lot of emotion into it,” he says excitedly. “You have to teach with heart.”
He had the opportunity to put that passion into practice as a teacher resident in the College of Education & Human Development’s Collaboration and Resources for Encouraging and Supporting Transformations in Education (CREST-Ed) program.
Teacher residents are placed in local classrooms for an entire school year; during the 2017-2018 academic year, Trinh taught classes at Clarkston High School in Clarkston, Ga., which has a large number of students who emigrated to the U.S. from other countries.
As someone who moved from Vietnam to Atlanta a few years ago, Trinh understands the benefits and challenges to making this transition to the U.S.
His experiences in the teacher residency program – coupled with his prior volunteer work teaching English at the Atlanta Fulton County Library and with Catholic Charities Atlanta – allowed him to connect with people from a variety of backgrounds who, like him, made Georgia their new home.
“I felt that the CREST-Ed residency not only prepared me with the things all first-year teachers should know, but that hands-on experience I needed to tap into what education is like in America, especially for those who are new to this country like me,” he said.
Trinh continued to think about education from a multicultural perspective. While working on his master’s degree, he participated in a study abroad trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico, to learn more about Mexican culture and study the relationship between schools and society. He also led a TEDx Talk on his move to the U.S. and how he uses students’ cultural backgrounds and experiences in his teaching.
“After the speech, someone came up to me and said they wanted to become an ESOL teacher. I’d never had that experience before,” he said. “If you can change one person and they can change another person, we can change the world.”
Trinh began his doctorate in teaching and learning this fall and hopes to become a teacher and researcher who shares what he’s learned in Vietnam, the U.S. and Mexico with other educators.
“I’m very passionate about education and teaching and I want to inspire people who want this job to take it seriously,” he said. “I believe every child deserves an education and they deserve a great teacher.”