The student news site of Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA)
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Jocelyn Cheung

Math teacher Debbie Kim teaches her fifth period Algebra 2 Honors class.

Debbie Kim

Joining the math department this year, Debbie Kim will be teaching Algebra 1, Algebra 2 Honors, and Algebra Functions and Data Analysis (AFDA). AFDA is a transition class primarily for students who took geometry and are going into Algebra 2. She has been teaching in Fairfax County for 15 years and taught at Frost Middle School before coming to Chantilly.

Why do you teach?

I love teaching because I love math. It may have been because I had really good math teachers or because my brain is wired that way. The first year I started teaching, I fell in love with it because I liked seeing students’ reactions when they got excited about understanding a topic.

Why do you like teaching at Chantilly?

I originally chose to teach middle schoolers because I love the kids’ energy, but it got really tiring 15 years in. I couldn’t keep up with their energy and I wanted to work with an older group of students. When looking for a high school position, Chantilly was my top choice. I heard such great things about the students and the school’s reputation. Now after being here a couple weeks, the kids are really great and work hard.

What’s the difference between teaching middle schoolers versus teaching high schoolers?

Middle schoolers have a sort of immature energy. High schoolers are more laid back, so you don’t get that energy, but they are more mature.

How has high school changed since you attended?

When I was in high school, there was not a lot of technology. There was not even a whiteboard, just a chalkboard. Now we have Google Classroom, Schoology, Quizlet, Kahoot, Quizizz and all these other online platforms that allow better engagement with the kids. 

Do you have any favorite moments with students?

I don’t think I have one particular memory that comes to mind, but I really enjoy how my days are never the same. Something always happens. Somebody will say something that’ll make me laugh, or students that have graduated will visit me and tell me how their life’s been. Some kids want to talk to me about their personal life, and others really get into math with me. I never have a boring day, and everything is unexpected.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Recently my husband and I bought an annual pass to national parks, so we are trying to exercise more and be active. We’re going to try to hike and go to as many trails as we can. I also love watching shows like “Friends,” which I watch reruns of over and over, and they still make me laugh. I also love crime shows, like “Dateline,” “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Chicago PD,” and eating delicious food.

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