2006 Wilson Kwan, Woodrow Wilson High School

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Wilson Kwan of Woodrow Wilson High School
2006 Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher

A Diamond in the Rough

To describe this year’s recipient, Mr. Wilson Kwan of Woodrow Wilson High School in Los Angeles, his students say it best.

I am not proud to say that Woodrow Wilson High School is a low performing high school. I am not proud that Wilson (HS) has been listed as one of the worst ten schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. From my experience, the school system does not seem to care about my education and I learned to be apathetic as well. All this changed for me in my Junior year of high school. I am proud that Wilson High at least has Mr. Wilson Kwan, and he showed me why I should care about my education. From the first day that I met him and for the rest of my life, I will never forget him and he will continue to be an inspiration to me. He is sincerely Wilson’s “diamond in the rough.” WK

Mr. Kwan is a very unselfish person. Honestly, he is the first teacher to arrive to school and the last one to leave. He is literally there to support all his students in any way possible, and actually caters to individual needs. That’s really rare for a teacher, especially when they get accustomed to teaching in East Los Angeles. AD

He stresses the importance of the popular saying, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” Mr. Kwan makes sure that I, along with my fellow classmates, truly grasp the meaning behind this quote and not only remember it, but put it in our everyday life in order to stand against any force. He opens our eyes so that we can see the possibility in great achievement even when we are faced with new and unfamiliar challenges. I am personally moved because he further continues to help me out as much as he possibly can with only the best intentions for me as a student, which is to finish college with honors. TP

Mr. Kwan’s compassion and genuineness are just two of many qualities that stand out in his character. With many opportunities to teach in a better performing school, he opts to instruct in a low performing school like Woodrow Wilson High School. BT

The son of Chinese immigrants, Wilson is a very soft spoken and humble person whose energy comes alive when his students pour into his classroom at the end of the day. He provides them with a “home away from home” and for many this is a preferred and safe environment where they can do their homework and work on their labs or projects. Today, a group of these students work on a potato cannon and can’t wait to go test it. From the smile on his face that flashes by when they asked, it is easy to understand why he enjoys teaching here. After receiving this award notification, his Principal joked that he could now go to any school he wanted to now, but Wilson humbly said, “No, I want to stay here.”

Despite his short seven year tenure at Wilson High School, the difference he makes here is remarkable. Over the three years he has taught AP Chemistry, the passing rate of his students has soared from 40% to 93% and he has his sights set to 100% this year! Wilson Kwan truly represents the quality of our younger educators in the LA area.

– Paul Shin
Education Chair