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The Story of a Young Teacher Who Has Been Teaching Writing Classes at Abbott Elementary School

The Story of a Young Teacher Who Has Been Teaching Writing Classes at Abbott Elementary School

An ‘Abbott Elementary’ Writer Who Draws From Her Experience Of Being A First-Generation Student And Student Leader Is Not Alone

by Susan J. Gerson

Every summer for the past 14 years, while in the third grades of Abbott Elementary School in San Pedro, California, Jia Bao Jin, now 37, has been taking writing classes from a young teacher named Diane Nguyen. The classes have taken place at the school’s main school building and at its “student center” in an adjacent parking lot, which are in separate buildings.

“Diane and Jia go to school together,” says Ms. Nguyen, now the teacher’s assistant, while describing the relationship. “It wasn’t that we went to school together, but we became good friends. I saw Jia’s writing a lot. [It was] in [his] first few papers in the third-grade class, and he came to see me in the ‘student center’ writing class, and we talked a little bit about what he was writing. He was really interested in writing stories, so he would come to the ‘student center’ class and talk a little bit about his writing.”

The next year, Ms. Nguyen was an English teacher at the local high school. But, in her words, “I just started taking courses and writing the whole time. And I loved it.” She got a teaching credential, which she has used to become a writing instructor at the local public school. She has also taught English writing classes at local high schools and college English courses at UC San Diego.

Ms. Nguyen’s “writing courses” are now in the elementary school, and she teaches many of them as well. She has also been teaching writing at the “student center” in the adjacent parking lot, and has joined the leadership team of two other writing teachers, in addition to a student- and parent-led advisory board. The students have a regular meeting with one another, Ms. Nguyen’s husband, and her mentor from the local high school, in what the teachers refer to as their “community classroom.”

“They have their own class with their

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