For more than a decade, Ingrid Chung, 36, has been helping educate students at the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science (AMS), a middle school/high school in the South Bronx. What started off as a small teaching job, as part of a teaching fellowship she earned after college, quickly became something more.
After her first year as a seventh grade teacher, and after developing strong relationships with some of her students and their parents, a student asked her if she was going to return the following year, which took her by surprise.
“I remember being so disturbed and saddened by that question. I promised her, in my head, that I would be there until the day she graduated, Chung said. “And after that, there were a slew of other children who I made that promise to secretly in my head to. And there I decided I wanted to be in education forever.”
In 2014 she became an assistant principal at the Assembly School for Math and Science and three years later, she became the woman in charge by taking over as head principal. Fast forward to 2020, when a global pandemic changed the way students learn and interact. Chung quickly adjusted to meet the needs of her students as they transitioned towards remote learning, which for some students in the South Bronx has been difficult.
“It is definitely challenging to guarantee that 100% of our students have access to content. The laptops that are given out are not of the highest quality, they break down very quickly, and just because you have a laptop doesn’t mean you have consistent WiFi that people can connect to,” Chung said.
Although Chung was able to give out 650 Chromebook laptops to students who needed them for remote learning, she still feels there should be more attention to meeting the needs of other students throughout places in the South Bronx that may not have the luxury of having a good laptop or connectivity.
“We know that the pandemic has just highlighted the racial pandemic that exists and the racial divide,” Chung noted. “Without these things being guaranteed in any capacity, it is hard for any school leader to guarantee that 100% of their school students are being served.”