Jing Cassaro has been sharing her language and culture with students in Wake County for over a decade as a Mandarin Chinese teacher. After first teaching English as a Second Language in China, Jing came to the United States to teach Mandarin Chinese. Now in her seventh year at Green Magnet Elementary, Jing’s enthusiasm for cultural studies helps define this Leadership and World Languages magnet school.
Tricia Seymour, Green’s magnet and testing coordinator, shared Jing’s impact on their school community:
“Jing is an integral part of our school and our magnet program. Her love for teaching Mandarin shines as she engages students in grades K-5 with song, dance and other creative opportunities. She is an important part of our world language team and synergizes with classroom teachers and other staff to enhance leadership opportunities throughout the school.”
Why did you become a teacher?
From a very young age I remember wanting to be a teacher. I always believed teachers can change people's lives and I am glad to guide others when they are young. Teaching can change the whole world. I went to a teacher's college when I was in China and eventually found my path to help younger students at a public school and I enjoyed it a lot.
What do you enjoy the most about being in a leadership and world languages magnet school?
In a leadership and world languages magnet school, I have learned a lot. The most interesting thing is learning the 7 habits, which are very useful even for myself as an adult. Another thing I enjoy is that Green Leadership and World Languages Magnet Elementary is very diverse and there are so many different cultures here. It is a big blast to explore and learn different cultures and traditions here every day.
What is your biggest challenge in teaching your students Mandarin?
My biggest challenge is keeping the lessons fun and exciting for students so they will not lose their interest. Students have a hard time finding other places to practice Mandarin Chinese after my class. This could be a big reason that keeps them from continuing to learn Mandarin when they move on. My hope is that a lot of them will want to continue learning Chinese after they leave Green Elementary.
What is your favorite lesson that you teach each year?
My favorite lesson that I teach each year is lessons about the Chinese culture and traditions. For example, I enjoy sharing the traditions to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. My students and I will usually sing some Chinese new year songs and we also dance to celebrate Chinese holidays.
What about your job do you find most rewarding?
I feel very rewarded when parents or students share their experiences talking in Chinese when they travel, or when students use Mandarin Chinese to solve math problems. Those moments I can never forget. They always encourage me to keep working with younger people and help them to open another window in their world.
Name one thing you’ve learned in teaching that you wish you had known as a new teacher.
Find an experienced colleague. I wish I had known this as a new teacher. Finding somebody who can plan with you is very important. You will learn much more than you think, and this is also a very effective way to organize everything, especially for a new teacher.