Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Emerging Leader: Cliff Hong

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Emerging Leader: Cliff Hong

Article excerpt

CLIFF HONG took the long way to reach the classroom at Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Calif.

A political science major as an undergraduate, he enrolled in law school after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley. But, after a year, he decided that a legal career was not for him.

Maybe teaching was the place for him. But he had no teaching credential. "I cold called all of the charter schools, the private schools, the public schools in the San Francisco Bay Area," he said. Eventually, he found one high school principal willing to take a chance on him.

"I really liked it. But I couldn't fathom going through a regular teacher prep program. I just wanted to be thrown in there and do it right away," said Hong, a member of the 2008-09 PDK Class of Emerging Leaders.

What worked for him was Teach for America's approach to placing bright and committed college graduates in schools with teacher shortages. After Teach for America's five-week immersion course for new teachers, he was placed in a middle school in the Bronx.

"The age group was different from the high school students I had taught. …

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