Haoran (Harry) Zhang has been with SmartStart Education since August 2022. He is employed as an 8th grade math intervention teacher for City Springs Elementary and Middle School located in Baltimore, Maryland. Recently, school administrators requested he teach an Algebra 1 class to honors students.
Background & Education:
Zhang earned his undergraduate degree in sociology from UCLA. He completed his master’s
degree in education from John Hopkins University this past July. In addition to his education, Zhang spent time working in China as a second-grade teaching assistant at the Hanova International School and as an English teaching assistant at the Qinghai Nationalities University.
Career Path Decision:
Zhang is a firm believer in the importance of education as a career choice. “Educators and teachers are one of the most important jobs in our society,” he said. “We are responsible for preparing the younger generation and ensuring they have the knowledge and skills required to succeed in the world.”
The decision to join SmartStart has allowed Zhang to pass on his passion for education to his students. “As an educator myself, I firmly believe it is our responsibility to provide students with the necessary resources to succeed academically in school. I want to use my skillset and knowledge to help students who are experiencing academic difficulties, so they can have access to the support they need to achieve their potential.”
Challenges and Surprises:
Zhang said the most challenging aspect of teaching is the insufficient knowledge he has about his students’ background and learning readiness. “Sometimes students are going through hard times, such as having negative family experiences, and the teacher has not been informed about the situation. The teacher only sees their unwillingness to learn. If students are not mentally prepared to learn, teaching can be very challenging,” he said.
Teaching not only presents challenges, but also produces rewards. Zhang said he has been pleasantly surprised about his students’ attitudes and knowledge. “Although my students are only 13 or 14, they are much more mature than I had expected. Maybe it’s due to internet content exposure, or simply due to their personal upbringing, but I find myself in conversations with them where I learn from them too,” he said.