Founding member of the UCLA Writing Project Leadership Team and teacher at Westland School works to help Los Angeles teachers to teach and improve writing for their students and themselves.
Minjung (Min) Pai (’02, B.A., English Literature) was chosen as one of 11 teachers to be part of the 2018-2020 Heinemann Fellowship. Along with the other ten members of her cohort, Pai was one of 400 highly qualified applicants chosen for their outstanding commitment to students and their exemplary dedication to maintaining the highest professional standards. Each of the Heinemann Fellows shares the important goal of advancing the teaching profession and constantly working to better meet children’s needs.
Pai is an alumna of the UCLA Writing Project at Center X, one of 200 Writing Project sites across the country that helps teachers of all disciplines and levels improve their writing skills. Pai is a founding member of the UCLA Writing Project Leadership Team, which serves teachers in the greater Los Angeles area.
Pai is currently a fifth and sixth-grade head teacher at Westland School in Los Angeles, CA, where she implements workshops, units, and programs for both grades as the Group 6 Head Teacher. She also serves on the school’s Board of Trustees, the Diversity Leadership Team, and the Social Justice Anti-bias Curriculum Task Force.
Pai has presented multiple workshops at the National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference and served on the local planning committee for the conference in 2017. She has also participated in the Teachers College Summer Reading Institute.
Heinemann Fellows will engage in individual research projects that address challenges faced by schools across the country. These projects are designed to ultimately create new ways of thinking and fresh solutions to traditional problems of practice. Once research questions and plans are completed, the fellows will share findings nationally through social media, presentations, and published articles. Over the two-year course of the fellowship, the cohort will regularly meet in order to share ideas, challenge one another’s thinking, and engage in discussions focused on their most fundamental beliefs about children, teaching, learning, and living. In a time when countless educators around the country question whether they can make a lasting contribution to their students, Heinemann Fellows are seeking to create original and effective ideas.
Pai says that the Fellowship will allow her to explore what she and her Heinemann colleagues see as problems of practice in teaching today.
“With so much talk of diversity and equity in education today, talk of multicultural curriculum, culturally responsive pedagogy and inclusive classroom, I saw that there is a gaping hole in one of the most important elements of these practices – personal identity work for teachers,” says Pai. “I believe that teachers must do their own personal identity work in order to be able to effectively teach multicultural curriculum, in order to practice culturally responsive pedagogy and to build an inclusive classroom.”
This is the third cohort of the Heinemann Fellowship, which began five years ago. The first two cohorts of Heinemann Fellows explored wide-ranging action research projects on diverse topics, including inclusivity in the classroom, the role of visual literacy in math, social-emotional learning and empathy, identity in literacy learning, and creating a culture of revision in writers’ workshops.