The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Life Lessons: Faculty


Teachers are here to guide, help, and place students on the right track for success. All teachers can teach students something valuable, even if it is not something related to academics.

Ms. Chiang, an English teacher at TAS, says, “I’ve learned that we only have ourselves to depend on in the face of negativity. Inevitably, we all experience hurtful and stressful situations, and to overcome these we’ll have to learn to radiate positivity. People who are engaged, selfless, and completely radiant are the kind of people who will have the willpower to find light in the darkest places.”

Ms. Lin, another English teacher, has a similar approach to the world. She says, “Laugh and laugh often. Getting in at least one good laugh a day means I’m doing something right: I’m either surrounding myself with the right people, pursuing my passions, approaching life with just the right amount of seriousness, or all of the above.”

As a long time teacher at TAS, Mr. Arnold has plenty of stories. He says, “In 1987, I was diagnosed with a brain problem and I had to receive surgery. When you’re faced with that kind of thing, you realize that if you survive, it’ll be a miracle. I realized that life is very tenuous and we should be happy and appreciate every single day.”

Mr. Barrus, Upper School photography teacher, says, “People, myself included, often overcomplicate their personal, social, and professional situations causing unnecessary stress, miscommunication, and anxiety. In my experience, the no-frills approach is always better, so I try to remind myself each day to keep it simple, stupid.”

Associate principal Mr. VandenBoom says, “The first lesson I learned is that it’s possible to change your opinion about somebody else. First impressions aren’t always long lasting truths.” When Mr. VandenBoom was in graduate school, he had a professor who he thought was “one of the worst teachers [he’d] ever seen”. However, when Mr. VandenBoom took one of the professor’s classes later on, he felt it was “one of the best classes [he’d] ever had in [his] life.” He says, “I was amazed. I learned that you have to be open to change. Don’t have one opinion of somebody and think that’s never going to change.”

Mr. Vandenboom also learned the importance of family. When he was a freshmen in college, his mother told him she was an alcoholic and had been going through an alcoholism program while he was at school. “It hit me by surprise. Prior to this, I didn’t have a close relationship with my mother,” says Mr. VandenBoom. “But that was the beginning of a wonderfully close relationship. I learned about the need to understand, forgive, and maintain the family bond that can sometimes be fragile.”

Remember that teachers are here to give us support. All teachers have stories to tell and many of them contain life lessons that will be valuable in the future.

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