Phu Trieu

Phu Trieu

Phu Trieu has taught middle school social studies in Mattawan for 16 years. He loves the profession while acknowledging it has ups and downs. He came to the United States as a baby after his mom fled Vietnam with him and his siblings and they lived for a time in a refugee camp in Thailand. He remembers the kindness of teachers from elementary school who recognized the family’s poverty—including one who put brand new socks and underwear in his desk and others who bought kids food. His mother worked three jobs and took English classes at night, while Trieu and his three siblings worked to contribute to the family. Today one sibling is a doctor and two are attorneys. “I love teaching most of the time, but just like any job there are struggles,” he said. The biggest challenge of the job is feeling that teachers don’t have the respect of everyone in the community as much as when he was growing up. He believes student loan forgiveness would help more young people choose to be teachers, and it also would help to have recruiters actively coax young people into the profession. “We need to talk to kids and say how awesome teaching is and be real with them. It’s not perfect; you have to work. But you get time to spend with your family, and you get the joy of building relationships with people that will last forever.”

MEA Voice Feature Teachers

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