August 30, 2020
In non-pandemic times, statistics teacher Binh Pham-Valentukonis didn’t think twice about the brief and personal day-to-day interactions she had with her students outside of teaching.
“I will never again take for granted the student showing up for class early to tell me about their weekend or the student sitting in the back of the room trying to stay under the radar because they are having a bad day,” Pham said. “These relationships are the foundation of the classroom and just so challenging in the remote world.”
Despite the challenges that come with starting the school year virtually, Pham has seen herself grow as an educator through remote learning.
“I can wholeheartedly say that the shift to remote learning has been, and will be, for the better,” Pham said. “This shift has required me to use technology, innovation and creativity for the most critical assessments while highlighting the importance of the teacher-student relationship.”
Pham is no stranger to adjusting to the unexpected, though. She had originally planned on studying computer science and psychology in college; after working as an intern at a local school and noticing firsthand the dedications of the teachers around her, she changed her focus to education in her sophomore year.
“My path to education happened by accident, but it felt like it was meant to be,” Pham said.
She then transitioned to pursue a teaching career in mathematics due to her appreciation for the logic and flow of the subject in her studies. Pham taught at Gilroy High School for 11 years before coming to Los Altos High School and is still committed to teaching students how to solve the puzzle of math.
“I love math because of its problem-solving character; everything is a puzzle,” Pham said. “The harder the problem, the bigger the reward. The more problems you get right, the more problems you want to solve. Math is a tapestry of complexity that awaits to be discovered and to me, that’s magical.”
Alongside sharing her passion for mathematics with her students through her implementation of a vigorous and engaging curriculum in her classroom, Pham continues to express concern for her students’ and co-workers’ wellbeing throughout distance learning.
“The existing systemic inequities that exist in education are now much more acute and glaring,” Pham said. “We are struggling to meet the needs of our most vulnerable students and communities because they have not been at the center of what we do. Luckily, I am now in a district that has equity as one of the main drivers for their work, and I look forward to being part of that positive movement.”