Choral director noted for mentoring students
By Dana Trumbull
Da Un “Andie” Chung, an educator at Apache Junction High School in Apache Junction, AZ, was recently selected as a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS). A role model to pupils, Chung was nominated by sophomore Makayla Montoya for outstanding dedication and commitment to excellence in the profession.
Montoya, an AJHS choir student, has been one of Chung’s students since junior high. “I nominated Ms. Chung because she’s an outstanding teacher,”said Montoya. “She inspires us to be better musicians and to follow our goals. She dedicates her time for students, even if she doesn’t have to. She’s always there for us through our challenging times.”
“I am very humbled and honored,” commented Chung. “It is such a prestigious award; but also I think this award is not just for me, but it is for our community. If I didn’t have my school administrators’ and colleagues’ support, the program wouldn’t be where it is now. Also, the support from the community in Apache Junction and Gold Canyon helped make us an excellent group.
“I am especially grateful to the GC Lions Club, Kachina Club at Raindance Mobile Park, Mountainbrook Village and Gold Canyon United Methodist Church Music department. I also can’t thank my students and their families enough for their understanding and support to see this vision of mine and make it even better.”
The AJHS choir will be participating in the Arizona Music Educators Association (AMEA) Choral Fall Festival this week, on November 1, at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. So far this year, three of Chung’s students have been selected for the University of Arizona High School Honor Choir, and four students have been selected to participate in the prestigious American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Cantaremos Honor Choir.
Chung shared that her ultimate goal is to inspire students to sing all of their lives. “As to my vision, I want my students to sing better, communicate better, be exposed to different cultures and backgrounds and become more empathetic so they can make a positive difference wherever they are. These goals match our district vision as well.” Chung added, “This year, we are spending a lot of time on sight-singing to prepare for upcoming festivals and competitions. Sight-singing is a big part of the score.”
Each year student members of NSHSS are invited to nominate the educator who has made the most significant contribution to their academic career for the Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction award. This honor recognizes exemplary educators whose passion and devotion inspire their students to grow and develop as scholars, leaders and citizens.
The NSHSS seeks to advance the goals and aspirations of high-achieving students through unique learning experiences, scholarships, internships, international study and peer networks. From attending the annual Nobel Week festivities in Stockholm, to internships with major corporations and government agencies, pre-college summer study programs and more than $2 million in exclusive scholarships awarded annually, NSHSS is continually seeking new ways to provide lifetime learning and growth opportunities for academically talented and accomplished student leaders and the educators who support them.
“Dedicated educators who exhibit a commitment to excellence deserve our highest praise and appreciation,” said NSHSS President James W. Lewis. “Through our Educators of Distinction program and the grants we provide to support professional development and enrich classroom instruction, we hope to acknowledge and encourage the vital work of the teachers, counselors and administrators who are shaping the intellect and character of our young scholars.”