Celebrating Educators
As part of our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, we launched the "Celebrating Educators" series in February 2021 in order to amplify the incredible diversity within the teacher community. Our hope is that by highlighting diverse educators, we will collectively build a community that is inclusive, welcoming, and brave for all.
​​​​​​​

We are excited to continue featuring amazing educators from many different backgrounds throughout the year so we can continue to learn and grow together. 
Pride Month
In June, in honor of Pride Month, we featured stories from VIPKid educators who are part of the LGBTQIA+ Community. Check them out below!
img
Meet Jessie GU!

As a self-identified shy extrovert, Jessie’s drive and passion for improving student outcomes has been a bright light in his community. Jessie grew up in a traditional Hispanic family, and learned to avoid discussing his sexual orientation. After he became the first in his family to graduate high school and attend college, he began to uncover more about his identity during his diversity training as a Resident Advisor. Jessie became the first in his family to graduate from university. He received his teaching credential from Cal State San Marcos, and realized that he was going to change student lives after he connected with foster students during his student teaching, and empowered his students as they achieved new goals and reached new heights. Jessie has been in education for 15 years serving as a classroom elementary teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Outside of changing student lives, Jessie loves to travel, try new foods, breweries, and discover more about his city! 
​​​​​​​

What is one perspective you would like to share with others?

Jessie had always dreamed about becoming an elementary school teacher as a child. After achieving his dream, he took a risk to become a Principal and leave his hometown in Southern California. The experience transformed Jessie, and now he is serving as a Vice Principal in San Diego. Jessie shares, “If there is something that you feel passionate about and it burns in your heart, then it is worth the risk. It took me a long time to accept myself. It was not until I began to do what was right for me professionally and personally that I became aligned with who I was.” ​​​​​​​
img
Meet Justin VWB!

Justin’s resilience and strength to overcome life’s obstacles is inspiring. After both his parents became sick and passed away when he was a young teenager, Justin had to navigate young adulthood on his own. He persevered and graduated from the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg with a 3.9 GPA, Magna Summa Cum Laude, and was able to pursue his love of both travel and education teaching with VIPKid. In addition to education, Justin is passionate about the arts. He loves to learn new art skills. During the pandemic, Justin learned how to publish books! He created his own Pride themed coloring book, which he sold on Amazon. Justin also loves to travel, and has made lifelong friends across the globe, and loves to help others.

How do you celebrate your Pride? 

Justin shares the strength and connection he has found in his LGBTQ+ community.  He shares, “Friends and those you pick to spend time with (your chosen family) are really important for LGBTQ+ community. Many LGBTQ+ community members may come from a dark background or may have been rejected by their families. I am really grateful for my friends who have helped me through. For us in the LGBTQ+ community, we treat each other as family, because we know how hard it is and how much we’ve all gone through.” Justin shares how when he travels, he often participates in Pride events across the world, and always connects with LGBTQ+ communities globally. Meeting others who share the same struggles no matter where you come from, has allowed Justin to form loving relationships across cultures and geographies. ​​​​​​​
img
Meet Rebecca WYO!

Rebecca’s radiant energy, loving personality, and her identity as intersex has allowed her to be a passionate advocate for intersex rights. Rebecca graduated from the University of Missouri and moved into a career in marketing, soon transitioning to fundraising, which led her to activism. She is an educator, grant-writer, and serves as president of the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group. A highlight of her career is working with a nonprofit which helped MTV create an intersex character for the MTV show “Faking It.” Rebecca is a mother to three wonderful children, and in her free time she loves to run, knit, and bake all kinds of delicious breads! 


What sparked your passion for activism? 


Rebecca was told that she would never meet another person who was intersex, despite the fact 1.7% of all people are intersex. This is the same frequency as the birth of identical twins. Growing up, Rebecca remembers how there wasn’t intersex represesentation in news programs, the media, or in public spheres. Today, gatherings have grown to hundreds of people and she is in daily contact with thousands of intersex people online. Learning about other families and their experiences empowered Rebecca to share her own story and become a fierce advocate for intersex rights. In 2002, she became president of the largest intersex support group in the world at the time. She shares, “We are just another way to be born.  We have to make sure that we let all of these kids know that they are valid; all of these experiences are valid.”
img
Meet Sam M!

Sam’s passion and love of the arts, as well as inspiration from her mom as a former teacher, paved her pathway for education in the arts. After graduating from Scripps College, Sam pursued a post-baccalaureate in the arts, and quickly delved into learning about different forms. She is a skilled potter, and served as president of an arts non-profit. She met her wife through art. Together they worked collaboratively on creating beautiful ceramic pieces, until her wife passed away from cancer two years ago. Sam and her wife were fierce advocates for marriage equality, and were married on the first day it was legal in Washington State. Sam’s strong spirit and love is evident through her support and care for her students. Currently, she and her mom grow a lot of their own food, and even have a pet turkey named Sweetie Pie who is 10 years old!

What was it like to be one of the first couples to get married in Washington State?

After advocating for marriage equality together with her wife, Sam and her wife were one of the first couples to receive their marriage license in their county! She shares, “We wanted to get married on the first day it was legal. We then pulled together a wedding in less than a month. It was really beautiful how our friends and our community came together to help and support us.” Sam and her wife were married at a unique venue, their friend’s coffee shop! Friends catered the wedding, took photos, and a local bakery donated a big cake for the reception. They announced their reception in the local newspaper, and welcomed everyone. One mother brought along her teenage daughter because she wanted her to witness the historic event. The Wall Street Journal came and took photos, which are still on the website today! ​​​​​​​
img
Meet Violette S!

Creative, compassionate, and clever, Violette has used her talents and passions to experience life to the fullest. Violette is a performance artist, who dances and does fire performance! Prior to the pandemic, she owned her own booking agency and worked on planning events from galas to corporate parties. Violette performed at the Gay Games, the LGBTQ+ Olympics, in front of thousands of people in 2014. Currently, Violette is pursuing her degree in nursing, and has been inspired by her wife who is also a nurse. She also has a master’s degree in French! Violette and her wife have expanded their family, and welcomed their daughter, Lavender, very recently. After her wife had their baby 10 weeks early, and a long stay at the NICU, Violette is excited to have her family home. She and her wife also enjoy hiking and camping adventures! 

What are you passionate about?

Violette shares, “I think social justice is the #1 most important thing. I believe that it is possible for us to have a kind and just society where everybody feels safe and healthy and can achieve their highest. Solving social problems is really hard but it is possible!” Violette continues to practice her beliefs in her life. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer where she worked with community health organizations to help better living conditions for others. Violette is passionate about the environment, and she and her wife are both vegans. Violette strives to live her life authentically and kindly, and is a loving and strong advocate for all. ​​​​​​​
Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
In May, in honor of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we featured stories from VIPKid educators who are part of the Asian and Pacific Islander Community. Check them out below!
img
Meet Rebecca AKN!

Rebecca was born in Philadelphia and currently calls Georgia home. She is on her 9th contract with VIPKid!


Rebecca’s resilience and strength has allowed her to be a cultural bridge and community connector. Raised in Philadelphia, Rebecca grew up in a home with a revolving door connecting her to her Chinese heritage, as her parents helped new Chinese immigrants move to and adjust to life in the United States. Rebecca graduated from Franklin & Marshall college with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Anthropology, and during her studies abroad in China at Fudan University in Shanghai, she realized her passion for education. Rebecca’s passion for reforming the public education system led her to work in school reform in Pennsylvania. She has also worked as a school liaison to help place international students in local schools in Georgia. Outside of her passion for education, when Rebecca is not home, she loves to travel, and has a passion for gardening! 


What was your experience growing up Chinese American?

Rebecca describes how she learned about her identity growing up in both Philadelphia and Georgia. “My family moved to a teeny tiny city in Georgia, where people had never seen Asians. My mom was a doctor, and many people in that tiny city did not see females as professionals either. Tt was very uncomfortable. I grew up when Americans were very anti-Japanese, so in general growing up Asian was very challenging.”  


Rebecca shares how her parents would host and assist new Chinese immigrants to the United States, and how she played a formative role in helping new families adjust. “It was like there was a revolving door between China and the United States. My family would bring new families to the United States, and we would welcome them to our home. It was very Chinese in the sense that we would pack several families into our home, and we were their teachers, helpers, and translators. We would really take care of these families, we would help them buy their first cars and homes. My parents were both physicians and they trusted that their girls could help take care of these families. I was fortunate, but it was a lot of pressure. Teaching with VIPKid now feels so natural. I have so many years of experience as a foreign language teacher!”


How do you share your identity in the classroom? 


Rebecca reminds us that the role of educators as cross-cultural bridges is incredibly important. Rebecca says, “it is really important to remember that the students you are teaching are growing up in a totally different political climate. A lot of teachers express that VIPKid students are very sheltered, but you have to remember that they are only exposed to certain aspects of culture outside of China. For me, it’s really important to show the students what can be considered America. Even though I am Chinese, I reinforce the fact that I am American and that Americans can look like anything. It is so important for students to understand that.”


Tell us more about your new passion for gardening!

“I really love to travel, but this last year I have not been able to! I have found that gardening is really fun and rewarding. I recently started a gardening group in my area, and we also rescue animals!”


Rebecca’s passion for building cross-cultural bridges has left us dreaming of traveling and making new connections. Make sure to check out Rebecca’s story on VIPKid social media channels. ​​​​​​​

img
Meet Loretta H!

Loretta grew up in Singapore, and now calls Baltimore, Maryland home. She is on her 4th contract with VIPKid.

A fiery and warm force, Loretta proves that paradoxes just happen to be part of her personality! Both a planner and a risk-taker, Loretta has experienced living globally. Raised in Singapore, she traveled 10,000 miles from home to attend and graduate from law school in the United Kingdom. After practicing law in Singapore, she moved to the United States, and changed her career to pursue education. With a passion for teaching, she graduated with her Masters of Science from the school of Education at John Hopkins University, and is currently pursuing her doctorate. She has taught in both Pennsylvania and Baltimore city schools, and is currently a lecturer at Loyola University, working with undergraduate students who are interested in becoming elementary school teachers. 


Outside of her professional life, Loretta is an advocate for furry friends. She volunteered as an adoption coordinator to place rescue dogs in homes, and along the way adopted six rescue dogs herself! Most recently, she started her own business, Polite Pup Academy, where she trains dogs with behavioral issues, and helps others acclimate their furry rescue friends. Loretta is also a huge foodie and an excellent cook! With her love for helping others, both animals and humans, Loretta continues to inspire us with her zest for life! 


What was it like to leave Singapore and travel so far from home to pursue your law education? 


A proud first generation college graduate in her family, Loretta shares, “My mom was born during the Japanese occupation of World War II, and she never had the opportunity to go to school. My dad graduated high school and went to the military. My family really valued education. For me, education was always important and a no-brainer. If you were educated, you could be your own person. You are not beholden to anyone, and growing up I wanted to be a lawyer.”

Loretta’s willpower and determination are admirable. She describes, “It was really scary to apply back in the ‘90s to leave Singapore and move to an entirely different continent for education. No one in my family had done it before, and I didn’t have anyone helping me. When I first arrived in Cardiff for school, I was really scared and excited at the same time. The diversity I experienced at school was wonderful.”

“To go from Singapore to the United Kingdom, I learned a lot. In Singapore, it is so safe to go anywhere, and I learned that was not the case abroad. This was also the first time that I would experience what it would be like to not belong. One day when I was walking to the store to get food, some adolescent children yelled at me, ‘Alien go home!’ Even though I know what is legally meant by the term alien, it was the first time that I ever felt like maybe I don’t belong here.”

Despite the challenges that arrive with moving to a new country, Loretta graduated from law school and passed the bar in both the UK and Singapore before moving back to Singapore to practice law. 


How did you become an advocate for rescue dogs? 


“Venturing  into animal rescue was totally new for me. Growing up, we did not have dogs since we were not allowed to have pets. When my mom was really young, she experienced the death of her neighbor’s dog, and she did not want us to ever go through that.”

Loretta describes how her love for dogs started with taking care of her former sister-in-law’s dog, which started her passion for animal rescue. She volunteered to place over 400 rescue dogs into homes, and helped start an animal rescue, World Animal Gardens. Loretta describes, “this volunteer position brought me so much satisfaction, because I saw how happy dogs and humans were once dogs were placed in their new homes."


Through helping rescue dogs acclimate to their new homes, Loretta realized she was an excellent dog trainer, and intuitively understood what these rescue animals needed to feel at home after difficult past situations. This led her to start her own training academy for dogs, and during the pandemic she adjusted her format to online to accommodate and continue to help furry friends.

What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share?

“Open your heart to the universe, you never know what could happen!"


Loretta’s fearlessness has encouraged us to push our borders both figuratively and literally! Her kindness and care for all is a force. Make sure to check out Loretta’s story on VIPKid social media channels.

img
Meet Ginger M!

Ginger is from Chicago, Illinois and is on her 9th contract with VIPKid.

An artist, teacher, organizer, and researcher, Ginger’s gifts have been a powerful part of her role in her community. Moving to the United States when she was just five years old, Ginger’s life experiences and background have made her a change agent and fierce advocate for social justice and human rights. Her passion for the arts and theater have given her a powerful stage to share her work and love for her community. Ginger graduated from the University of Chicago with a  Masters of Arts in Theatre, and is currently working on her doctorate in organizational leadership. She has taught in Chicago public schools for over 20 years, during which she engaged at-risk youth with arts-based literacy programs. Currently, Ginger is the executive director of CIRCA Pintig, a non-profit theater company. Pintig, which means heartbeat or pulse in Pilipino, serves as the voice of the Filipino American community by using art to celebrate. This year, Pintig celebrates its 30th anniversary! 


How did your passion for theater begin? 


“It’s interesting, my love for theater is very much connected to the 1.75 generation of being Filipino American.” Ginger explains, “This generation refers to those that came to the United States under the age of 5. I am in a position where I am familiar with my culture and the language, but I am also really American, and a Chicagoan.” 


Ginger’s passion for theater is intrinsically tied to her understanding of her identity. She remembers, “I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade when I first encountered what it meant to be Filipino in my social studies textbook. I remember reading through my textbook and finding a quote about Filipinos, that they are barbarians that needed to be civilized. I remember my heartbreak as a child, and asking myself, ‘Do I want to identify with this?’ It was probably a quote from a primary source and out of context, but it still hurt. In my textbook, that was all that I could find about the country I was born and the family I was from. It left me very confused.” 


Ginger shares how her love for theater began with the influence of her aunt. “I learned more about my identity with the mentorship of my Aunt Angela. She was very involved in a progressive grassroots type of theater in the Philippines, and she had immigrated with her family in the mid-80s after the People Power Revolution. She was involved in different experimental theater forms, and the theater of the oppressed. This is theater that is not necessarily focused on escaping reality, but rather using theater as a way to talk about struggle and conflict. It was a way to empower people. Through my Aunt and theater, I was exposed to a lot more Filipino history that I wasn’t learning in school. At a young age, I was building awareness, and talking about critical issues through theater. Because of that activism and performing, I felt I was able to develop and I feel proud of that expression and communication. My aunt guided me and mentored me, and ever since then I have felt passionate about exploring identity, the human need to belong, the trauma that immigrants experience, and the intergenerational trauma that is passed through these experiences.” 

Tell us more about your non-profit theater organization, CIRCA Pintig! 


“Pintig is a volunteer-based organization, and we are celebrating our 30th anniversary! Currently, we produce a lot of virtual productions, and collaborate with artists globally. Just recently, we hosted a woman who started community pantries in the Philippines, as a way to address the needs of the community that the government was not solving.  We highlight all kinds of different human rights issues and social issues, whether it is Stop Asian Hate, or other issues. Another time we did a stage reading that addressed the issue of gun violence and young lives lost.” 


Ginger shares how her organization empowers her community. “We are a community partner for both the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where we partner with students who are doing research in social justice and the creative arts. We are also a community partner with StoryCorps. I collaborate with students, and train them on how to collect and share stories. It is so important to tell our stories! We worked with students to do a series called, Silencing Stigma Reclaiming Life, where we collected stories from our community members about mental health. This was very challenging, but powerful work.”

How would you advise others to start if they are interested in social justice work?


“I would say start with your community. Community building is great, and I was fortunate to be mentored. There are a lot of great organizations that are doing important work, for example, here in Chicago we have Asian Americans Advancing Justice. As educators, here in Illinois, they just passed the Teach ACT, a law that will ensure that students are taught Asian American studies in K-12. If there are acts like this in other states and places, I would encourage others to support learning about different histories. I would also recommend engaging and having difficult conversations, to learn more about other experiences.  Bystander Intervention is also incredibly important. I would say just being with educating ourselves and being aware. What is that we are passionate about and what do we stand up for? Find those groups and organizations that can help you pursue those passions.” 


Ginger is a true change-maker! Ginger’s passion for empowering her community and her courageous spirit have inspired us to cultivate our own understandings of who we are. Make sure to check out Ginger’s story on VIPKid social media channels. 

Celebrating Black Educators
This series features many of the incredible Black educators on the VIPKid platform. Check out these teachers below!
img
Meet Bianca U!

​​​​​Bianca is currently living in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is on her 4th contract with VIPKid!


Raised in the small town of Hinesville, Georgia, Bianca moved to the big city to pursue her teaching dreams. Both warm-hearted and hard-working, Bianca has transformed the lives of her students with her passion for teaching and helping others. Bianca graduated from Valdosta State University, where she majored in English after she was inspired by her high school teacher. After graduating, Bianca began to substitute teach. As she was substitute teaching, she realized her skill for improving student outcomes. Currently, she is pursuing her state teaching credential. Outside of education, Bianca is an avid reader, a huge Zumba aficionado, and an outdoor  enthusiast! 


What was the moment that made you realize you wanted to become a full-time educator?

“I moved back to my small town after graduating college, and I was teaching upper elementary on the army base. I had a really challenging student with behavioral issues. One day, I had a heart-to-heart conversation with this child, tears in my eyes, and the student began to cry as well because he felt bad about his behavior towards me. After this, our relationship changed. This was the moment I realized that I can make a difference in a child's life. I will never forget this moment because it lets me know that every child has a uniqueness inside of them, you just have to dig a little deeper to find the sparkle.”


Bianca shares her current steps in her teaching journey. “I am often labeled as a super energetic teacher, and while I love the little children, my hope is to become a first or second grade teacher. I am really excited to work with that age since they have some true independence. I can’t wait to do all kinds of creative projects with my students!” 


What was it like growing up in a small town? 


“I feel really grateful to have grown up in a small town,” Bianca shares. “Hinesville is next to an army base, and both my parents are military. Growing up, I had the opportunity to meet people from all different countries. This made teaching at VIPKid an easy transition for me. I always welcome diversity, and I treat people how they want to be treated. I love the experiences I had growing up in Hinesville.”


What has been your favorite part about teaching with VIPKid? 


A loving teacher with high expectations, Bianca says, “My favorite part about teaching is when students feel comfortable to share something with me about them that I didn’t know before. I am starting to have regulars, and I feel so proud of my regular students. I have one regular student who has an outgoing personality. In one of our recent classes, she mentioned that she enjoyed singing. I asked her to sing me a song, and she truly sang me a gift! She sang for me in Chinese, and it was so beautiful, I was close to crying! That was a high point for me.  I love building these connections with students.”

You mentioned you are an avid reader. What is a recent book you’ve really enjoyed?

“Reading is like my own personal oasis! I love reading stories that take me on a journey! Whether it’s fictional, mystery, or something else, I love broadening my horizons. I would recommend reading The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet. It really takes you on a journey!”

With her passion for teaching, and her enthusiasm in finding the light in each of her students, Bianca has inspired us! Make sure to check out Bianca’s story on VIPKid social media.

img
Meet Nathan CN! 

Nathan is from Florida, and currently living in France. He is on his third contract with VIPKid! 


Nathan’s down-to-earth, friendly, and warm personality brings joy to everyone he meets! Nathan grew up in south Florida, and graduated from Florida Atlantic University. During his undergraduate career, his love and passion for languages led him to major in French and minor in Linguistics. Combined with his love of helping others, Nathan realized he would be an excellent educator, and decided to pursue education. Since graduating, Nathan has served as an educator in all different types of settings, and has taught both elementary students and adults, teaching a variety of topics from French to adult ESOL and adult education. After serving students of all ages for fifteen years, Nathan moved to France to explore new opportunities, and continues to pursue his passion for the French language and culture. Nathan’s polyglot skills are impressive! He can communicate in French, Haitan Creole, Chinese, Spanish, and is now learning Japanese! 


What started your passion for languages? 


Nathan’s passion for languages began at a young age. He remembers, “we had a friend that my family would babysit. I was around 4 or 5, and the friend’s daughter would have French lessons, and we would get to listen in. That was the first time I was exposed to the language, and I remember loving it and loving memorizing the new sounds and words. After that, I remember taking lessons for a while.”


Nathan shares how his mother played an influential role in shaping his passion for languages. “I am a Jehovah’s Witness. My mom would always learn a language first. She wanted to learn how to share the Bible with those that did not speak English. She spoke French, and that made me want to learn French. Later, my mom went to the Chinese Congregation, and she started to take Chinese lessons, and I said, ‘I want to learn too!’ My mom can communicate well in Chinese. She is super into Chinese dramas, and she got me into them too! Right now, I am learning Japanese! It is very fun.”


What has been your favorite thing about living abroad in France? 


Nathan moved to France right before the pandemic started. Despite the difficulties of moving across the world during a challenging time, Nathan has made the best of his experience. When asked what he most enjoys, he shares excitedly, “the music! In France, the music is phenomenal. I can flip any channel on the radio and they will have a great selection. They appreciate all types of music: jazz, classical rock and roll, they have everything! I don’t even have to change the station, there is such variety. All the songs are great!”


Nathan also shares, “The quality of food and wine is impeccable! The cheese and the bread! You can get a great glass of wine for only two or three Euros. While I do miss certain things from home, like 7-11, Dunkin’ Donuts, and coffee, it has been amazing overall.”

How do you show up for your students?


“One of my best qualities is being honest, passionate, and importantly patient. I am always incredibly patient. I know that learning a new language is tough. I am always patient with my students, and I continue to encourage them,” Nathan explains. His patience with his students builds positive and lasting relationships.“When I was taking Chinese lessons, my teacher gave me a Chinese name. In Chinese, you give names based on qualities. Whatever that quality is, they find a name that matches, and that is what you become. Because of my patience, I was given a name from the word, nàixīn, which is patient in Chinese.”


What are some of your hobbies?


When Nathan is not teaching, you can catch him exploring a variety of talents. “I enjoy roller skating, and I used to always go to the park or rink. I also play some self-taught guitar. And really enjoy listening to music. Recently I have started learning Japanese. It is very different,  and has three alphabets!” 


Nathan’s caring and patient spirit have inspired us to learn that next language and continue pursuing our passions! Make sure to catch Nathan’s story on the VIPKid social media channels!​​​​​​​

img
Meet Pernethyia H!

Pernethyia is from Louisiana and is on her 7th contract with VIPKid! 


When asked to describe herself, Pernethyia shares, “I’m a free spirit, a Christian who goes where God leads me, and I’m a big risk taker.” Raised in Louisiana, Pernethyia is a dedicated educator, business owner, wife, and mother to two incredible daughters. Before finding VIPKid, Pernethyia was in education for 13 years, first as a preschool educator and later a program director. She graduated from Park University and, in addition to everything that she does, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in finance! Outside of education, Pernethyia served in the armed forces, the Louisiana Army National Guard, for eight years. She is an avid gardener, loves to dance, and is passionate about budgeting and helping others reach financial freedom. Most recently, her cultivation skills led her to open her brand new business, the Backyard Garden Experience! Perneythia’s warmth and joy radiates in all that she does! 


How did you become an avid gardener?

“I have been dabbling in gardening with food since I was seven years old with my grandfather. I grew up in the garden that he built, and it was just like the book The Secret Garden. The backyard of my grandparents’ home was quaint, but so exciting. There was a beautiful fig tree, a giant banana tree in the corner, and rows and rows of vegetables. Since that young age, I have always grown something.”  


Pernethyia’s love for gardening continued beyond her grandparents’ home. “From the moment I had my own space I was always growing something. When I had a classroom, I always grew something with my students, whether it was flowers for Mother’s Day or vegetables. Once I got married and moved to our first apartment with my husband, I started growing fruits and vegetables on our balcony. Because we lived on the third floor, I even started a blog called Third Floor Mom. Fast forward to moving into our home, with a nice backyard and frontyard, I built a large garden.”

Tell us more about your new business, The Backyard Garden Experience LLC!


Pernethyia describes how her business, the Backyard Garden Experience came to fruition this past fall. “After I saw the success in my own backyard with my garden, I decided I would love to help others make gardens. During the pandemic, I watched a lot of people try and grow plants, but not be able to take care of them. I wanted to help people be able to grow their own plants. So after some back and forth,  I signed up for a certification on how to raise and make garden beds.  Throughout the certification process, The Backyard Garden Experience was born!”


Some of us will be lucky enough to see Pernethyia’s green thumb in action! This upcoming Saturday, April 10, Pernethyia is bringing her cultivation skills to VIPKid, and teaching other educators how to grow and maintain their own herbs! While the workshop is currently full, we hope there will be future opportunities to plant with Pernethyia!

Aside from gardening, what are you passionate about? 


With Pernethyia pursuing her master’s in finance, it’s no surprise that she is passionate about budgeting and money! She notes, “I strive to be debt free. I love helping others with their money, with the goal to be debt free! Somewhere in my journey, I hope to open a business that helps under-privileged people, families, and businesses get their finances in order. I want to show others how they can manage their finances in a way that works for them, and by starting small you can grow into something big. I think about it like gardening. If you plant one little seed, with proper care and cultivation, it can grow into this massive flowering plant!”


What is your advice for other VIPKid teachers?

Pernethyia advises the importance of self-care. “Take a break! As teachers, we can get really wrapped up, doing it all from updating our classrooms and taking care of others; it is so important to take some time for yourself! For example, if you have 10 classes in a row, schedule a break! Eat, stretch, do what you need to recharge! You can’t fully give unless you are fully you.”


Keeping Pernethyia’s advice in mind, we hope some of you are able to take a break and join us for her gardening workshop! We are inspired by Pernethyia’s patience and warmth in helping all things grow and flourish.  Make sure to be on the lookout for Teacher Pernethyia’s story on the VIPKid social channels—we want to hear from you! 

img
Meet Kehsa B!

Kehsa is from Oakland, California and is on her 4th contract with VIPKid!

Having lived throughout California, and now residing in Georgia, Kehsa brings her loving, compassionate, and spirited energy into everything that she does. Kehsa graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), with a degree in sociology and has had a career covering everything from retail and project management to working as a freelance makeup artist and opening her own salon. Outside of her professional career, Kehsa is an active member of the Atlanta chapter of United Way, and is a huge advocate for early childhood education. She is also a licensed master aesthetician, and enjoys riding motorcycles. Kehsa is truly living her life to the fullest, and proves that there isn’t anything you can’t do!

You mentioned that education is a huge part of your life. How did that begin?

“My parents lived in Oakland in the 1980s, which was a really challenging and hard time. It wasn’t safe for me to be outside, and so I turned to reading as a form of escapism. My brother would call me a reading buffalo. I would read everything! The Chronicle of Narnia, Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, I read so much that I became engulfed in the stories.”

The power of reading was transformative for Kehsa. “My books taught me to imagine, think, and problem solve. Soon it really set me apart in school. I changed my life with education, and I graduated high school with a full scholarship to UCLA.”


Today, Kehsa shares her love of reading with her students. “I strongly believe in early education. It has the power to let you access all your goals in life. I currently read to children with United Way. Having students think, and problem solve, that helps their imagination. The possibilities for these students are limitless.”


Tell us more about your creative pursuits. What has it been like to work as a freelance makeup artist?

“One thing that is really important to me was connecting to other women and uplifting them. Makeup is part of my toolkit to do this” Kehsa shares. “I have freelanced at MAC and have worked for Tyra Banks’ fashion and beauty website. I became a freelance makeup artist because it is a way to help women feel strong. Makeup can be part of our warrior wardrobe. We put it on, and it makes us feel fierce, and I love seeing women confident and enjoying themselves. Sometimes my makeup sessions can be like 1:1 counseling; it allows me to connect deeply with others and it is a beautiful exchange.” 


How do you show up authentically in your VIPKid Classroom? 


“What’s real in my world is that I am an African American woman, and we’ve seen a lot of momentum about what it’s like to just be an African American in the US. In my classroom, my students are as different as can be, and that allows me to be.” Kehsa shares, “For example, San Francisco is very corporate. One reality for African Americans is that to be taken seriously, you have to work harder and present yourself differently. For example, you have to straighten your hair, since that is considered professional. I have very curly hair. Being able to be myself everyday without any restraints can be very hard in this environment, and it is very important for me to show myself as I am.”

Kehsa shares how she uses her authenticity in the classroom as a learning tool for her students. “As we are becoming more and more interconnected through technology and social media, these 1:1 interactions with my students are so important. They give me an opportunity to show others what another culture is like. To really be able to see, experience, and realize other cultures as they are. These interactions are the drivers of true stories. They are the seeds I am planting for a better future. I hope that these little seeds can change racism throughout the world, because it’s not just in America.”


Kehsa’s many talents and courageous spirit have inspired us to enfuse love and kindness into all our interactions. Kehsa is a changemaker! Make sure to be on the look-out for Kehsa’s story on the VIPKid social channels.

img
Meet Frantzie B!

Frantzie is currently based in New York and is on her 11th contract with VIPKid! 


Born to Haitian parents and raised throughout New York, Florida, and Texas, Frantzie has had a career spanning the music industry, international education, and UX (user experience) design and research. A graduate of Howard University, Frantzie has followed her passions abroad. Her empathy, compassion, and love has transformed educational experiences for her students. Frantzie taught abroad first with the EPIK Program in South Korea, and later traveled to and taught in Vietnam. In addition to teaching, Frantzie is currently working on developing a career in UX design, where she hopes to combine her passion for social justice with her creativity and problem-solving skills to design apps with social impact. 


What inspired you to teach internationally?  


“After I decided to leave my career in the music industry, I began to work with students who had J1 Visas. I helped them adjust to life in the United States, and soon I began to wonder what it would be like if I traveled internationally. I worked with students from all over the world, and that inspired me to work overseas,” Frantzie explains. “I wanted to travel somewhere new and try something new!”

What was a challenge you experienced while living internationally? 


“Being Black and being foreign, I experienced a lot of microaggressions while abroad. Despite this, I would always educate people. If someone would make fun of my hair, I would let them know that making fun of my hair hurts my feelings. I would tell them ‘I know you don’t know, but this is hurtful and I won’t roll with it.’”  


She notes the importance of education and awareness, “I am a super empathetic person, and I always stay in teacher-mode—it’s cultural and who I am.”

What is your teaching style? 


“In the past I used to watch other teachers, and learn from them, but now I have really gotten into my own groove.” She notes how she has developed her unique teaching style. “I am a minimalist teacher, and I am just me. I like simple colors and I use whiteboards. I am a really humorous teacher, and it’s really fun to get to know your students,” she adds. “I like to show real-world stuff, we talk about people like Naomi Osaka, and lately GIFS have been my jam—students love GIFs!” 


You are a Dino expert! What is your advice for other VIPKid teachers?

“Just try out new things,” Frantzie advises. “Teaching is about building relationships. I like to be connected to the kids, know what they like to watch, what they like to listen to, they put me on to all these great things. I saw Frozen for the first time because of my students, and I couldn’t believe how good it was!” Frantzie shares, “It’s a wonderful exchange, we have learned all about each other. This has been a journey, and I continue growing!” 


We are so inspired by Teacher Frantzie’s adventurous spirit, and her compassion for students. We can’t wait to see where her talents and passions take her next! Make sure to be on the lookout for Teacher Frantzie’s story on the VIPKid social channels—we want to hear from you!

img
Meet Samar B!

Samar was born in Jamaica, and raised in Toronto, Canada. She is on her first contract with VIPKid.

Samar moved to Canada when she was just two years old, and her multicultural background has fueled a love of travel, art, and culture. Samar’s passions led her to graduate from York University with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts. In addition to working for the Canadian Federal Government as an Administrative Officer, she has made her art dreams a reality and launched her art business! Despite her busy schedule, Samar volunteers with her church and blogs about her food and travels. Her artistic and compassionate spirit is a gift that she shares with not just her students, but in all aspects of her life. 


When did your passion for art begin? 


“I’ve always had a love for art. My dad is a self-taught artist and author, and my brother is a photographer and birder. It’s just part of our family,” Samar shares. She remembers how her love for art began as a child. “I’ve always made my own little crafts. When I was younger I would experiment with everything! I loved building things too. I even used to make my own books!”


Samar’s childhood passions developed into a lifetime of artistic endeavors, and she has spent the past year during the pandemic focusing on building her art business. 


What art mediums are you currently working with?


“I am primarily a painter, but right now I am obsessed with tiny things!” Samar notes how her latest interest began. “I went to a craft market with my best friend and saw some polymer pieces that inspired me. I had used clay before but not polymer.”


She started experimenting with polymer clay. “My friend asked me to make miniatures of her cats. Instantly I was hooked! They turned out so cute, my friend said that I should make more and start a business, and here we are!"


Samar describes the process of her art: “It sparked a new passion for me. I love putting such intricate detail into tiny pieces. I like coming back to my earlier pieces and remaking them at a later time to see just how much I have grown as an artist." Sharing her art with others is important to Samar. She says, “I love seeing how my art sparks joy in others, it’s one of my favorite parts!”

In what ways do you share your experiences in the classroom?


“I am a cheerleader in the classroom!” Samar describes, “I am very ambitious and goal-oriented, so I always set goals for my students, like I do for myself.”  Samar’s patience and kindness with her students motivates them to do well.

“I love learning about other cultures,” Samar notes.“It has been so fun to learn and grow with my students, I hope to continue to educate and bring joy to each student I teach!”


What is one reflection you’ve had? 

“When our light shines on other people, we can impact them in a big way. I always try to motivate others to do well; you can do anything you put your mind to!”

Samar’s caring, adventurous, and artistic spirit has inspired us to pursue our creative interests! 

You can check out Samar’s artwork by finding her on Instagram, @kittenjellyboutique. Be on the lookout for Samar’s story on VIPKid social channels—we can’t wait to hear about your passions!

img
Meet Michelle WSN!

Michelle WSN was born and raised in Virginia, and is currently on her 6th contract with VIPKid.  


A mother, educator, and fitness instructor, Michelle WSN somehow manages to do it all! Originally from Virginia Beach, and now residing in North Carolina for the last 14 years, Michelle’s love for learning and joy extends beyond her virtual classroom. Dedicated to raising her family, her teaching journey first started with her own at-home daycare, and led to homeschooling her six children for the last 23 years!


In addition to being an educational role model inside and outside the classroom, Michelle is a certified Zumba and yoga instructor, has published two books—a vegetarian cookbook and a poetry book—and is an advocate for students with disabilities. 


Michelle’s compassion, love, and attention to what makes every student unique has made her a gifted educator who has changed the lives of students. 


Tell us more about your teaching philosophy. What has influenced you as an educator?


Michelle’s advocacy work began with her son who is now in the 10th grade. Michelle remembers, “I realize all children are different, but my son was really different.” Following her mother’s intuition, Michelle remembers, “I thought my son was on the spectrum at a very young age, but no one could confirm it. We finally received the official diagnosis when he was 7.”


After her son received his official diagnosis, Michelle was determined to help him succeed. She shares, “I started learning all about children who are on the Austistic spectrum. I started helping him in a way that worked for him. I used what he was interested in—the food section of newspapers and superheroes—and he learned to read. To this day, he still loves superheroes, and can tell you all about them." 


Michelle’s son changed her outlook on instruction. She says, “My son helped me become a better teacher. I had to adapt to his learning needs and at his learning pace.” Michelle got creative. “I would tell my son, ‘Invite me to your planet.’ He has such a rich imagination, and you have to listen to him, and his colorful descriptions.” Michelle’s experience raising her son allowed her to become a fierce advocate for children with disabilities. Michelle notes, “I advocate for my son by listening to him and making space for what he has to say. You need patience. He is a deep thinker and extremely articulate. It is all about providing him with what he needs.”


What has your own educational journey been like? 


Michelle started school in Virginia, and graduated from Guilford College in North Carolina. She reflects, “while I was attending school, I was also raising and educating my children. It took me 10 years to graduate, but I did it!” Michelle is a role model for her children, two of which are now in college themselves, and two who have already graduated! While educating her own children and attending school, Michelle remembers, “It soon became a competition with my children in school, with who would finish first. I would say ‘You’re not going to finish before me!”


While attending college, Michelle was a mentor for other adult students and secretary of her college’s student government association. She remembers a joyous moment when she received her degree. “As I was walking across the stage, I held up my degree, leaned over and smiled. Right at that moment the photographer snapped a picture. Soon, I found myself on the brochures for my college, and all over my college’s bulletin boards!”


What is your advice for other educators?


Michelle shares her words of wisdom for other educators: “Be humble and stay grounded. You should have an open mind and be teachable. There is always a lesson to learn. I am always learning from my students, too!”


Michelle’s educational journey has empowered us to put our best selves forward, and tackle life’s obstacles as challenges to overcome and lessons to learn. 


Make sure to check out Michelle’s story on the VIPKid social channels—we can’t wait to hear from you and what has shaped you as an educator. 

img
Meet Dr. Ri'Cha ri S!
Dr. Ri’Cha ri currently lives in South Carolina and is on her 11th contract.
​​​​​​​

Dr. Ri’Cha ri’s bright and loving energy radiates through everything she does. An educational advocate, Dr. Ri’Cha ri’s accomplishments begin with graduating high school at just 15 years old, to becoming the first in her family to attend college, and most recently receiving her PhD in education in 2019.


“I come from a family of firsts,” Dr. Ri’Cha ri says proudly, “My parents were both presidents of their unions, and they instilled within me this powerful desire to stand up for people when there is injustice.”


Dr. Ri Cha ri’s passions and zest for life have allowed her to explore her many talents, and create joy and change no matter what she does. Dr. Ri’Cha ri is a lifelong educator who has landed a record deal, modeled, launched her own fashion business, and created her own non-profit (501c3) where she taught world languages, cultural intelligence, cultural awareness, and dance!


How have your many passions influenced your life path?

“You don’t have to be just one thing,” Dr. Ri’Cha ri explains, “When I graduated high school at 15 and went straight to college on a full scholarship, I had the opportunity to go to so many places.” Dr. Ri’Cha ri has always followed her passions and explored her interests. She explains, “I was passionate about music, however, my parents encouraged me to pursue a degree with numbers. Before entering college, I never spoke above a whisper. But, I practiced and practiced singing in my free time, and I ended up with a record deal at a very young age.” Dr. Ri’Cha ri’s passion for music led her to sing across the country, from the Lincoln Theater in Washington D.C., to Carnegie Hall in New York City, where she also launched a career in acting. Dr. Ri’Cha ri has never stopped exploring, traveling, and learning! 


What is a memorable experience you have that exemplifies who you are? 


Dr. Ri’Cha ri reflects on her time in New York City, and notes “I have always taken the moral high ground, this is very important to me. I have never let my morals change because I live a fast paced life.” During her modeling career, Dr. Ri’Cha ri was approached by a major fast food chain to shoot a commercial for their latest burger. She remembers, “They asked me to shoot a commercial where I had to eat a burger. But I explained, I’m a vegetarian--I can’t do that! They said it was no big deal--just take a bite and then spit it out. I couldn’t do it, so I declined their offer. I ended up giving up the lead role, but stayed on as an extra. I know I did the right thing.” 


How did you become a teacher with VIPKid?


After a whirlwind of experiences in New York City, Dr. Ri’Cha ri moved to South Carolina with her son and became an educator specializing in business and technology at her local school district. Dr. Ri’Cha ri says, “I experienced a difficult discriminatory situation at my school district, in which my safety and my son’s safety were threatened. My school district was not responding or handling the situation as they needed to, and I felt vulnerable. VIPKid saved my life, and I mean that." Dr. Ri’Cha ri’s experience with her non-profit that teaches cultural awareness provided her with the foundation to excel in creating joyous cross-cultural virtual classroom spaces. 


What is one piece of advice you’d like to share with teachers?

Dr. Ri’Cha ri is currently facilitating courses at Cornell University on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She shares, “I was taught to love, and even though I can get in debates, I always listen to people and recognize their points of view. We all have the ability to grow and learn.”

Dr. Ri’Cha ri’s loving joy and passion for life have inspired us to continue to explore and learn. 


Make sure to check out Dr. Ri’Cha ri’s story on VIPKid social channels--we can't wait to hear where your passions have taken you!

​​​​​​​
img
Meet Dr. Shamita J!

Dr. Shamita was born and raised in Philadelphia, and is currently on her 8th contract with VIPKid.  


Dr. Shamita grew up in inner-city Philadelphia, where too often children are viewed as statistics. Despite the societal odds stacked against her, Dr. Shamita persevered, paved a path for herself, and has made sure to bring future generations with her. She received her doctorate in organizational leadership, and her experiences and scholarship criss-cross continents. As a social scientist, a humanitarian, a polyglot, a scholar, and a writer, Dr. Shamita’s accomplishments are endless. 


Tell us more about your international scholarship, work, and leadership! 


Dr. Shamita’s passion for international humanitarian work started with her first archaeological tour in Sardinia, Italy as a young scholar of archeology. She explains, “As I was digging through the dirt, not only did I find artifacts of the Nuragic ancient civilization, but I found treasure within myself, and that allowed me to become the woman I am today. My journey is not about me, but my community, and giving back, especially to the next generation.”


After Dr. Shamita’s experience in Sardinia, Italy and then Nice as well as Paris, France, she went on to become a Fulbright scholar not just once, but twice, studying in Dakar, Senegal, and Paris. For her work, she has been awarded the Chivalry of Academic Palms in Education and Culture which is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed by the government of France.


Dr. Shamita’s passion for humanitarian and education work has spanned cultures and countries. As a leader, she has worked with both Save the Children and Africare. She has lived in Burkina Faso, Chad, the Central African Republic, Senegal, and Mali. Dr. Shamita built schools and hospitals, and collaborated with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR).


What is one lesson you’ve learned from your travels that you’d like to share? 


Dr. Shamita reflects on her time as a principal for an international boy’s high school in Kuwait, and shares “We have to have empathy for people. Learning about other cultures and understanding your fellow humans is really important.”

In what ways do you share your experiences in the classroom?


Dr. Shamita says, “In a nutshell, when I come to VIPKid, I give my students 100% me. They love it, and keep coming back.” Dr. Shamita takes extra care and effort to have discussions with her students, engage their curiosities, and bring new perspectives by incorporating a myriad of Black historical figures in her classroom. She explains, “Our history goes back to 1619 in the United States of America, and even before that. I challenge students and it has been an eye-opening and wonderful journey for us together.”


What is one fun fact that you’d like to share?

I love to collect spoons and coins from the places I travel!” Dr. Shamita is also working on writing her book—we can’t wait to read it!

Dr. Shamita’s international and humanitarian work has inspired us to learn, grow, and have empathy for others that are different from us. We can’t wait to see what Dr. Shamita does next! 


Make sure to check out Dr. Shamita’s story on the VIPKid social channels—we can’t wait to hear what inspires you!

img
Meet Wendy C!

Teacher Wendy C is from Shaker Heights, Ohio and is currently on her 4th contract with VIPKid.  


Teacher Wendy grew up in Shaker Heights, where her family balanced hard work with love, joy, and a passion for travel, values which she now shares with her 13-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. Outside of VIPKid, Wendy plays a pivotal role in her current community of Louisville, Kentucky. Wendy is a practicing immigration attorney and an adjunct professor at the University of Louisville, and has helped countless refugee and immigrant clients find a safe haven. Wendy’s passion for improving the lives of others doesn’t stop at her day job; she also started a nonprofit in her community, the League Pro Kentucky!

Learn more about Teacher Wendy C’s nonprofit, the League Pro!


One of Wendy’s greatest passions is teaching the younger generation how to powerfully and eloquently communicate their perspectives to the world. The League Pro grew from this passion, and offers tutoring services to underserved youth in Louisville in math, reading, speech and debate. In addition to managing the League Pro, Wendy volunteers as a debate coach for both elementary and middle school, where she empowers the next generation with the strength of words. Inspired by Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, the League Pro's next accomplishment involves bringing spoken word and poetry services to the community. 


In what ways does Teacher Wendy C share her culture and background in her classroom?


Teacher Wendy’s passion for words doesn’t just inspire her nonprofit work, but also her interactions with her students abroad. Wendy loves to share stories and anecdotes with her students. They bond over their families, pets, world affairs, and of course, holidays. Wendy is always ready to share photos of her family and her experiences with students. She creates a welcoming, joyous classroom environment where everyone can authentically be themselves.

Teacher Wendy C leaves us with some words of wisdom and her current song on repeat…

“Be the light that you want to be. You can do it, you just have to keep trying! Right now, I am really inspired by the song "Unfinished" by Mandisa”

We are so inspired by Teacher Wendy C and her commitment to improving individual outcomes both inside and outside of her classroom. Make sure to check out Teacher Wendy C’s story on the VIPKid social channels--we can’t wait to hear what inspires you!