Global Education

Teacher of the Year Honorable Mention: Luling Yan, Connections

This is the first in a series of posts celebrating the accomplishments of our four 2024 Participate Learning Teacher of the Year Honorable Mentions. 

The 2024 Participate Learning Teacher of the Year awards recognize teachers in the Participate Learning Network who have shown an exceptional commitment to their students and school community. These honorees have also exemplified Participate Learning’s mission of uniting our world through global learning.

This year, there were so many incredible submissions that we wanted to recognize four global educators with Honorable Mentions in the following categories:

  • Connections: Connections with students, colleagues at school, their community, fellow members of the Participate Learning Network, and beyond.
  • Cultural Experiences: Cultural experiences they provide for students, their school, and community by sharing their own culture, recognizing all of the cultures represented in their classroom, and teaching about cultures from around the world.
  • Leadership: Leadership roles they serve in on their grade level or team, within their school and district, in the Participate Learning Network, and in the community.
  • Learning: Professional development opportunities that advance their own learning, as well as the creative and innovative global and/or language learning experiences that they provide for their students.

Our first Honorable Mention is for the category of Connections. Luling Yan is a third-term Ambassador Teacher from China who is currently teaching in the U.S.A. She teaches third-grade Mandarin dual language immersion at Kensington Elementary in the Union County Public Schools district in North Carolina. Ms. Yan is constantly making meaningful connections for her students to enhance their learning. Take a look inside her dynamic classroom and the ways she has made connections in all areas of her life this year.

Creating connections with students in a dual language classroom

Ms. Yan has made so many amazing connections for her students throughout the year to ensure their learning is relevant and engaging.

She has made vlogs for the students to document special moments and help them remember all they have learned. She also created a Padlet that students can use to stay connected over school breaks and tell each other what they are doing. Ms. Yan fosters strong friendships in her classroom and gets to know her students deeply.

Students also grew more connected to each other through learning projects like their family tree and life timeline project. Even more impressive, these third graders completed their projects in Mandarin!

Fostering strong connections with parents and families

Ms. Yan made an intentional effort to include parents and families in many aspects of her classroom this year. Parents volunteered in the classroom for global topic read-alouds, where they read a book related to global issues to the students. Students discussed topics from the books, such as economic growth, sustainable infrastructure, and physical and mental health.

Ms. Yan created videos and photos to share with parents throughout the year so they could stay up to date with what students were learning. A note of appreciation from a parent highlights how much Ms. Yan’s hard work meant to the families in her class:

“[Ms. Yan] was an exceptional teacher from start to finish this year! She led her class with passion, determination, humility, and care and concern for each student. She continuously put together and posted educational videos and pictures/videos of class experiences/trips. She went above and beyond in her communication with the parents. As a class parent, she was a joy to work with.”

Building valuable connections with colleagues

Building connections with colleagues and fellow educators is important to Ms. Yan. Making the most of her time teaching in the U.S.A., she shares her Chinese culture with other teachers at her school. She helps them incorporate cultural aspects into lesson plans and shares gifts and food at social events.

Ms. Yan has presented at conferences about student-centered technology tools and incorporating global themes into the classroom. She collaborates and learns from other Mandarin immersion teachers in her district to constantly improve her skills and methodologies.

We want to extend our gratitude to Ms. Yan for all the ways in which she is an ambassador for her Chinese culture and the difference she makes in her students’ lives. She is truly an exceptional language immersion and global educator who is passionate about constantly improving and learning.

Stay tuned as we announce more Teacher of the Year Honorable Mention awards in the coming weeks! If you are interested in teaching in the U.S.A. with Participate Learning like Ms. Yan, take a look at our application process and requirements.

Caroline Weeks

Caroline Weeks is a marketing consultant at Participate Learning. She is passionate about using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for global learning.

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