Park Center’s Pang Yang Honored for Teaching
In a Twin Cities classroom – almost halfway across the globe from Southeast Asia – Park Center’s Pang Yang is teaching Hmong students how to reconnect with their culture.
Yang recently received a prestigious honor, being named Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Culture’s “World Language Teacher of the Year.”
Yang’s class is impacting students in a positive way.
“It’s pretty important to know your language,” said Anna Yang, one of her students. “Because if you don’t know it, you won’t know your tradition and your culture.”
Pang Yang has been instrumental in developing the Hmong language for native speakers at Park Center Senior High.
“Oh my gosh,” Yang said. “I think it’s been life-changing for students.”
Yang launched the class to give Hmong students a chance to explore their roots and many have benefited from her expertise.
“I love the way how Ms. Yang sorts things out and is very organized with it,” said Anna Yang. “The way how she teaches helps a lot of people.”
“For some students, this has really helped them with their identity,” Pang Yang said. “It’s helped them open up a different avenue for them to be able to have a bigger dream and be able to reach for it.”
Pang Yang is a trail blazer
Yang came to the U.S. from Laos when she was four and believes classes like this are necessary in Minnesota.
“The Twin Cities is actually the largest urban area with Hmong residents in the United States,” Yang said.
Often Yang’s classroom is a sanctuary for students who have trouble opening up in other subjects.
“For some kids this is the only class they even talk in because they are comfortable,” Yang said.
As for that teacher of the year award? Yang is proud of the accomplishment, because her efforts are paying off and as she says, “trying to make an impact in the educational system.”
According to Yang, by learning to speak Hmong, her students are getting better in English, reading and other subjects too.