This month's winner: Wes Gong, fourth grade teacher at Christ Lutheran
How long have you been teaching at CLS?
It is my first year at Christ Lutheran School, and my first year teaching fourth grade.
Where else have you taught?
I have been a substitute at Valley Lutheran High School in Phoenix and Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, CA.
How does it feel to be a Teacher We Love?
Honestly, I am surprised and honored. It feels great to know that all the hard work that goes into teaching is leaving a positive impression on the students.
When I saw your team walking up with our Principal, Mr. Doyle, and Assistant Principal Mrs. Black, I thought it was an observation or that someone was in trouble. I was just praying that it wasn’t me!
What is your favorite part about being a teacher?
I love being able to share the love of Christ with these students.
I am so grateful that God loved me so much that He sent his son Jesus to take the punishment that I deserve. It is the whole reason I teach. I teach so that I can have the opportunity to share that love with my students and their families and my favorite part about teaching is helping students see that God loves them and cares about them personally.
Did you always want to teach?
Actually, I did not know that I wanted to teach until I interviewed here. I went to school to study Theology and Youth Ministry. Fourth grade was not even on my radar until our principal approached me at church one Sunday and asked if he could talk to me after church.
In case you were wondering, getting called into the principal’s office is just as nerve-wracking when you are an adult! He asked if I would be interested in applying for the fourth-grade position and the rest is history.
However, I did always know that I wanted to work in a position where I could share my faith with others and I am so glad that I am able to do that as a teacher here at CLS.
Do you have any unique techniques you use for teaching?
Throughout the year, I have found that many of the best teaching moments happen outside of normal class time. I love playing four square or other games with the kids at recess. It is really helpful to be able to model a Christ-like attitude when I get out or to help with conflict resolution when an argument arises. Plus, it is much more enjoyable than just watching them have all the fun.
Where did you grow up?
Originally, I am from Livermore, CA. I went to college at Concordia University in Irvine before an internship in the Baltimore area. I moved to Phoenix after getting married to my wife, who is the director of youth ministry at Christ Church Lutheran.
What is your favorite part of Arcadia?
I love being close to so many great hiking trails. There is such a variety of options, from Camelback to Papago Park to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. I am used to having to drive to get to good hiking, so it is fantastic having so many options in my backyard.