I am a chemistry and Chinese teacher at Camden County Technical Schools, a Title I public school that serves mostly students from Camden City, NJ. Only my students, however, know my true identity.
To chemistry students, I am Commander King, head of the Alliance Chemistry team, captain of the spaceship SS-King-304, and scientific advisor to the council on extraterrestrial defense. My students and I apply chemical principles in order to promote the health and wellbeing of the human alliance. To Chinese students, I am Chief Detective Jin, who after experiencing the death of a close friend, is on a mission to investigate his friend’s murder and determine the true cause of death. As students’ language ability improves, they also draw closer to finding out the truth behind my friend’s death.
Inspired by immersive storytelling and engaging videogames, I attempt to create a unique and unforgettable learning experience for my students. My ultimate goal is for students to feel empowered by their classroom experience and feel like they have the skills and knowledge to impact the world around them. Since seeing improved student engagement and achievement from my first few years, I have also started exploring computer programming and video editing to build even more immersive environments for students.
At Princeton, I was inspired to join TPP because I wanted to equalize the educational opportunities available to US students. Growing up in suburban Cherry Hill, NJ and then being bombarded by so many wonderful opportunities at Princeton, I knew I had many opportunities that were the direct result of just luckily growing up in the “right” zip code. Meanwhile, just fifteen miles away in Camden City, I knew students would have greater difficulty fighting for the same opportunities I had. This disparity in opportunity and education is what fuels me to teach students from Camden city today. In my own small way, I teach to level this difference in opportunity.
The greatest lesson I learned during my time with TPP was that the foundation for teaching lies in building strong relationships with students. I have seen this theme through all of TPP’s coursework as well as the many collaborative opportunities I have participated in, including PUPP and QUEST Scholars. As a result, in my own classroom, I prioritize learning what makes students tick and then creating experiences that target their strengths and weaknesses. In addition, I try to make it out to whatever extracurricular activities that they have to show that I am their biggest supporter through their high school journey.
Since graduating, I have come back to guest speak at TPP301 and participate on the TPP alumni council. I believe it is important to continue to share with aspiring teachers just how wonderful it is to be a teacher. Teaching is as challenging as it is rewarding. Every day I am improving, but also realize how much more I can improve. It is one of the few professions where I am empowered to share with students my passions and interests, and it is the only profession where I can actually live out my childhood dream of being Commander of my own spaceship.
Here is a glimpse of Jeff's teaching approach: http://goo.gl/84A4Wv
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: @commander_king
Jeff King ’10 will be attending Harvard University in the Master's in Education in Technology, Innovation, and Education (TIE) program. Through TIE, he plans to produce immersive and gamified virtual learning environments for urban high school science classrooms. Jeff was accepted into the Urban Scholars Fellowship Program, which covers the tuition and is available to graduate students who have worked in urban school districts for at least 3 years.