Charles Lu knows good advice when he hears it. Lu, who earned his master’s degree in secondary education in May 2008 from Loyola Marymount University’s School of Education, worked as a campus coordinator and recruiter for Teach for America during his undergraduate years. An adviser said to him, “We think you’d be a great example of what you’re advertising.” From that suggestion, a new career direction was formed.
In April 2009, Lu was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach English in Taiwan for the coming school year. Fluent in Mandarin, the main dialect of the island nation, he will teach in an elementary school or middle school in the city of Kaohsiung. Fulbright scholarships include several international exchange programs that allow U.S. graduating college seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to study abroad for an academic year.
“An LMU class inspired me to continue my research. A course called ‘Lesson Study,’ observing teachers in the classroom, made me wonder if there are better ways to reach students,” Lu said.
Lu, who holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in government from the University of Texas at Austin, had planned on a research-oriented career. But he signed up as a participant with Teach for America and was placed in Huntington Park at Nimitz Middle School near downtown Los Angeles. “I developed a passion for teaching,” he said, and an interest in developing curricula and education policies.
While teaching in the Fulbright program in Taiwan, Lu will also study the country’s education system, with an eye for understanding the extraordinary success rate there. “The school system is a competitive environment … and this could explain their high graduation rates,” he said.