This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Third-grade teacher Angela Chan is more than just a teacher.
She is also a learner, and says the Notebook has become one of her primary resources.
"The more I know about the [Philadelphia] community and the more I get connected with the people, somehow it trickles down to my work in the classroom," said Notebook member Chan, who teaches at Taggart Elementary.
"Knowledge is power," she said.
Chan, 34*, discovered the Notebook during her very first year of teaching at Taggart. She is now in her eighth year, making Taggart her "one and only" school.
"I used to only focus on my classroom … but reading the Notebook gave me a bigger picture of what’s going on across the District," she said.
Chan has used the Notebook to connect with helpful resources. For instance, through an article she read in a recent edition about at-risk youth, Chan found an organization that helped her arrange school transportation for one of her students who was a foster child.
"I wouldn’t have known that that would be possible if I didn’t read about the service," she said.
The Notebook has also led her to other community organizations that share her commitment to education. In addition to her work with the Philadelphia Writing Project, Chan is exploring other groups mentioned in the newspaper that value teacher input and work with students from immigrant communities.
"It is important for me to be a part of groups," Chan said.
"I just realized that I can’t do it on my own."
Chan has been working with the Philadelphia community all her life. She grew up in Chinatown and organized a tutoring program with city students while attending Haverford College. Her connection with these students, particularly those who immigrated to the United States, is what helped Chan decide on her future occupation.
"I remember making a decision, distinctively, to become a teacher to make a difference in their lives," Chan said.
She said one of her most memorable teaching moments occurred two years ago, when her elementary students rallied behind a "Pennies for Pools" campaign to save many of the community swimming pools that were slated for closure. Though the students raised just $100, their action attracted local news media and the attention of the city’s recreation commissioner.
While Chan believes she is learning through the Notebook, the community, and her students, she says that her mission does not end there.
"I’m also realizing that with knowledge comes the responsibility to … do something, however big or small," she said.
So, in the spirit of passing on knowledge and uniting supporters of public education, Chan recently purchased an additional Notebook membership – as a birthday gift for her friend and fellow teacher Leah Johnson, who now teaches at Vare*.
"[Angela and I] both have an investment in the kids’ lives and improving education, so I thought [the gift] was…very thoughtful of her," Johnson said.
"When others are passionate about public education and come together, then we bring our efforts together, and the Notebook is a really powerful forum," Chan said.
CORRECTION: Two changes were brought to our attention after publication. Chan is 34, not 38, and Leah Johnson no longer teaches at Taggart.