Jason Nguyen hopes to inspire future generations as kindergarten teacher

When Jason Nguyen pictures his future kindergarten class, he wants students to feel one of two things: either they are inspired that they want to become a teacher or that the classroom is their safe place where they can be themselves and feel at home.

He also sees color – lots and lots of color.

“I want it to look like a Disney movie where the kids are ready to learn and have fun. I also want to have a corner that is opposite of a time-out corner. I want to have a cool-down corner where any child that feels stressed out, anxious, tired, etc., can just go to the cool-down corner where there are toys, books, and anything to have them at ease,” he explained.

Nguyen is currently studying in Elementary Education with a Concentration in the Arts and a minor in Counseling at the IU School of Education. He was inspired to become a teacher because of educators he had in the past – especially his fifth grade math teacher who made everyone feel welcome and excited to come to her class every day.

When Nguyen was a senior in high school, he participated in a cadet teaching program and had the opportunity to teach in a kindergarten classroom, cementing his plan to teach that grade. 

I learned so much about how to be an effective educator within my floor, but I also learned a lot about myself and I cannot thank this floor enough.

Jason Nguyen

Now a sophomore, he’s taken advantage of School of Education workshops and Armstrong educator panels, along with his many classes, all part of helping him feel confident to run his own classroom in a few short years. Nguyen is a peer leader with INSPIRE LLC, a floor where educators live together and connect with one another. As a peer leader, he helps host events during Welcome Week to connect with the new members and for the new members to connect with each other. 

“We also host cultural engagement activities and lead seminars or fireside chat to talk about different topics within education. My friend and I did a seminar about LGBTQ+ conversation with your students where we talked about different scenarios and my personal story with the school board. I learned so much about how to be an effective educator within my floor, but I also learned a lot about myself and I cannot thank this floor enough,” he added.

Besides INSPIRE, Nguyen is also part of the Dean's Advisory Council within the School of Education, where he works closely with programs like the Boys and Girls clubs, hosts fundraising events, and talk about issues that the School of Education needs to address. He is also a member of the Vietnamese Student Association at IU.

Staying involved and making a difference is important to Nguyen. When he was a senior in high school, he worked with a group of friends to propose language to the school system’s anti-discrimination policy that included protection for gender and sexuality. The school board originally voted 4-3 to not change the policy, but after a month of media interviews and focused work by Nguyen and his friends, a second 5-2 vote made the change for the better – and helped Nguyen realize the impact he could have for his students.

“This made me realize that at a young age that I can still advocate for others, and I will continue to advocate for my staff and my students once I become a teacher,” he said.