May 2024
Vol 21 No 5

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About Harry and Rosemary Wong...
Harry and Rosemary Wong are teachers. Harry is a native of San Francisco and taught middle school and high school science. Rosemary is a native of New Orleans and taught K-8, including working as the school media coordinator and student activity director.

Harry Wong has been awarded the Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award, the Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Award, the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, and the Valley Forge Teacher's Medal. Rosemary was chosen as one of California's first mentor teachers and has been awarded the Silicon Valley Distinguished Woman of the Year Award.

Harry Wong is the most sought after speaker in education today. He has been called "Mr. Practicality" for his common sense, user-friendly, no-cost approach to managing a classroom for high-level student success.

Nearly a million teachers worldwide have heard his message. Because he is fully booked for two years, he has agreed to and has invited his wife to join him in doing a monthly column for Teachers.Net so that more people can hear their message.

About Their Work... Harry and Rosemary Wong are committed to bringing quality and dignity to the materials they produce. For this, they have formed their own publishing company, of which Rosemary is the CEO. They have dedicated their lives to leaving a legacy in education and making a difference in the lives of teachers and students.

Their latest contribution to helping teachers succeed is an eLearning course on Classroom Management.

1. The course can be taken in private at the learner's convenience.

2. The outcome of the course is
a 2 inch binder with your own
Classroom Management Action Plan.

This Action Plan is similar to the organized and structured plan used by all successful teachers.  Details for the classroom management course can be seen at

The Wongs have written The First Days of School, the best-selling book ever in education. Over 2.5 million copies have been sold.

A third edition of The First Days of School has been released and includes an added bonus, an Enhanced CD featuring Harry Wong. The Enhanced CD, Never Cease to Learn, is dedicated to those teachers who know that the more they learn, the more effective they become.

The Wongs have also produced the video series The Effective Teacher, winner of the Telly Award for the best educational video of the past twenty years and awarded the 1st place Gold Award in the International Film and Video Festival.

They have released a new set of CDs with Harry Wong LIVE, speaking on How to Improve Student Achievement, as he speaks at one of his many presentations. He is the most sought after speaker in education and his presentations are legendary.

When the book, video series, and CD, and eLearning course are used together, they form the most effective staff training tool for developing effective teachers. Staff developers and administrators who would like to know how to implement the aforementioned book, video series, and CD are encouraged to consult the book, New Teacher Induction:  How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers. Information about these products can be found by visiting the publisher's website at or

Best Sellers

The First Days of School with Enhanced CD, Never Cease to Learn
by Harry & Rosemary Wong
$18.30 from
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The Effective Teacher (Video Set)
Presented by Harry Wong

8 DVDs, with Facilitator's Handbook in PDF, book The First Days of School, and storage case, $695.00 from (volume discounts available)
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Classroom Management with Harry and Rosemary Wong
eLearning course for individual use, CEUs available Preview the course and order at $124.95 (Group discounts available.)


How to Improve Student Achievement
Hear Harry Wong Live! in this 2 CD set
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New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers
by Annette L. Breaux, Harry K. Wong

$23.07 from
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Pathways: A Guide for Energizing & Enriching Band, Orchestra, & Choral Programs
by Joseph Alsobrook

$12.57 from
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Results : The Key to Continuous School Improvement
by Mike Schmoker

$20.95 from
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Improving Schools from Within : Teachers, Parents, and Principals Can Make the Difference
by Roland Sawyer Barth

$13.30 from
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A First-Year Teacher's Guidebook, 2nd Ed.
by Bonnie Williamson, Marilyn Pribus (Editor), Kathy Hoff, Sandy Thornton (Illustrator)

$17.95 from
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Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education
by Peter M. Senge (Editor), Nelda H. Cambron McCabe, Timothy Lucas, Art Kleiner, Janis Dutton, Bryan Smith

$24.50 from
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The Courage to Teach : Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life
by Parker J. Palmer

$16.76 from
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If You Don't Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students : Guide to Success for Administrators and Teachers
by Neila A. Connors

$13.96 from
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Effective Teaching...
by Harry and Rosemary Wong

December 2005 / January 2006

Fifty Years Ago Today, The Legacy

Bus No. 2857.  The old surplus bus had been sitting in the backyard of Roy H. Sommerfield’s house in Montgomery, Alabama, for 30 years.  Now, it was up for online auction—no, not eBay—and the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, outbid the Smithsonian and a museum in Denver.

Today, you can board the bus and relive history by sitting in the same seat Rosa Parks sat in that fateful day, on December 1, 1955—exactly 50 years ago today as this article is posted.

Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old African American woman who worked as a seamstress, boarded this Montgomery City bus to go home after work.

According to Jim Crow law, the first ten rows of a bus were reserved for whites.  Rosa Parks sat, correctly, in the eleventh row, the first row behind the white section.

However, on that day, all of the seats in the bus soon filled.  When a white man boarded the bus, the driver (following the standard practice of segregation) asked that all four blacks sitting just behind the white section give up their seats so that the white man could sit there.  Rosa Parks, who was an active member of the local NAACP, quietly refused to give up her seat.

When the police came on the bus that day, they said to Rosa Parks, “You know if you continue to sit there, we’re going to have to throw you in jail.”  She answered, “You may do that.”  An enormously polite way of saying, what could your jail possibly mean compared to the imprisonment I’ve been subjected to for the last 42 years, an incarceration from which I break out of today?

As a child in Pine Level, Alabama, Rosa Parks remembered watching buses take the white kids to the new school while the black kids had to walk to their school.

Although she was well-schooled in civil disobedience, her actions on the bus that day 50 years ago was ultimately her personal choice.

After her arrest, local civil rights activists, the Montgomery Improvement Association, initiated a boycott of the Montgomery bus system.  Leading the boycott group was a young Baptist minister who was new to Montgomery.  His name was Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since African Americans made up about 75 percent of the bus riders in Montgomery, the boycott posed a serious economic threat to the company and the white rule of the community.  The boycott lasted 381 days, into December 1956 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the segregation law was unconstitutional and the Montgomery buses were to be integrated.

It was Rosa Parks’ arrest that ultimately gave every American citizen,
regardless of color, creed, or national origin, the freedom to
sit where one chooses to sit,
eat where one chooses to eat,
worship where one chooses to worship, and
learn where one chooses to learn.

You Choose to Learn

Although we all have the freedom to learn, note where some people sit at faculty and inservice meetings.  Some arrive early just to be able to reserve seats in the last row or sit in the most remote corners.  Their message is clear, “I do not want to learn, nor do I want to collaborate.”

All I want is a job.

They want a job working 180 days, 8 am. to 3 pm, closed in a room with no worry of a supervisor, reluctant to be in-serviced, and free to belittle people (administrators, children, and parents) to cover their ineffectiveness.  Making money to pay bills is the primary concern of such worker-teachers.

They blame others so they do not need to take responsibility for their own actions.

The moment Rosa Parks chose to be arrested, she had no assurance as to what her actions would bring.  She had no assurance that her friends would be there for her in the aftermath of that action.

It was a lonely decision made in isolation, just as we all have to make isolated decisions that can affect our lives and the children we teach.

For instance, it can be very lonely when your negotiated contract states that the work day ends at 2:30 pm but you choose to stay late and even come in on weekends to work.

Or, you are part of a culture where people work in isolation; a culture in which life-long learning, such as going to conferences and networking with colleagues to solve problems, is not the prevailing practice.  The decision to continuously learn is a choice you must make, as Rosa Parks’ action gave you the freedom to make those choices even though you know that the people within your negative work culture are going to give you a difficult time.

It’s a sad reality
that you may be the finest of teachers and
have the finest of lessons and programs, but
if you work in a negative culture—
the culture always wins.

As a teacher, if you conspire to be part of a negative culture, then you help create a culture that is deadly for the children.

The Rewards Go to the Professional Educator

By making choices (Read Chapter 25, The First Days of School, on choice), the negative aspects of your life stop being your enemy.  When Rosa Parks sat down that day, it was partly an acknowledgment that by conspiring with racism, she had helped create racism.

By conspiring with ineffectiveness, you conspire to create ineffective schools and the children are the losers.

However, effective teachers know that the rewards go only to the professionals.  They are the happiest, make the most money, get the most respect, and are the most successful.

The children are the winners.

Professionals have arrived at this happy state in life because they build on strengths, not on weaknesses.  Their attitude and abilities are their strengths, and they do not dwell on whining about people, places, and things because they have discovered that life is fuller when chasing a future challenge than when bemoaning the past.

The first days of school may be history for you now, but the school year continues. What does the effective teacher do after the first days of school?

The professional educator chooses to always learn and grow.  The professional educator is on an endless journey; looking for new and better ideas, new information, and improved skills to further student success.

This Is Teaching:  Recognizing That Knowledge Is Power

Knowledge is power.  Knowledge, like money and status, is a form of power.  Power is not physical force but rather the ability to get things done.  For instance, the more money a person has, the more a person can do.  The more horsepower in a car, the easier it is to climb a hill.  The more knowledge a person has, the more the person is able to accomplish.  The ability to achieve and accomplish accrues for those with knowledge.

Knowledge provides choices.  A person without choices is helpless in life.  Ineffective teachers do not read beneficial literature on education or attend conferences; thus their reserve of knowledge is limited.  They complain helplessly that things don’t apply to them, waiting for someone to TELL them what to do.

Whereas, effective teachers have a passionate pursuit for knowledge, delighting that every new piece of knowledge allows them to reflect on more CHOICES and options in life.

Do not allow people who cannot control their own lives to control your life.  Rather, proceed through life expanding your awareness, searching for opportunities, working and sharing with other professionals who are also expanding their awareness.

Professional educators believe that within every great teacher, an even better one is waiting to come forth.

The Basics for a Beginning Teacher

The most crucial time in a new teacher’s life is the first one to three years.  During this time, some 40 percent of new teachers will decide to leave teaching.  But regardless of the reasons they state, the fact is that the successful teachers DO NOT QUIT.  The professional educator accepts the responsibility of personal growth and invests the time necessary to become an effective and successful teacher.

There was a time when we could discriminate against minorities, by restricting them to less appealing places.  That way, minorities could not get anything, while the majority got to choose everything: jobs, opportunities, and schooling.

However, because of activists like Rosa Parks, today, the only person who can discriminate against you is yourself.

Thanks to Rosa Parks and her contemporaries, we now have equal access to all the opportunities that are available in a free society.  She left behind an inspirational legacy.  Choices in school and learning is one of them.

May her noble spirit remind us
of the power of fateful, small acts.

  Barry Black
Senate chaplain

Much of the preceding has been excerpted from Chapters 25 and 26 in The First Days of School.  As you begin a new year, please reread these two chapters.  They will have a direct impact on your own life and happiness.

He Chose to Go to School

(The following story is excerpted from a column written by Jessie Mangafunan that appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, November 19, 2005.)

Jackson Dung Huynh lived only 15 years—almost half of them sick with cancer—and he was a student a mere two and a half months at Andrew Hill High in East San Jose, California.

But in his short life, racked with pain, his body reduced by bone marrow cancer to a shadow of skin and bones, friends, classmates and teachers say he left behind an inspirational legacy.

“I was struck by the irony that so many students are trying to get out of school,” said teacher Joshua Greene, “while young Jackson fought valiantly, even until his dying days, to stay in school.”

On Friday, Greene and more than 150 students and teachers—many of the classmates, like Jackson, were recent immigrants; coming from China, Vietnam, Laos, Samoa, Mexico, and Cambodia to learn English—paid a somber, moving, multilingual tribute to the young student who had a simple life goal—attend high school.

Kids and teachers looked on at Jackson with fascination and awe as he lived his dying wish with sheer mental will.

“He was one of the most powerful people I’ve ever met in my life,” said Mark Grey, Jackson’s teacher from Sylvandale Middle School in a tearful tribute.

“That boy wrote every letter in his homework with his heart.”

Jackson, a 2001 Vietnamese immigrant, died November 1 at Stanford University Hospital of complications from the bone marrow cancer he was diagnosed with at age 7 while still living in Ho Chi Minh City.  He endured 13 months of chemotherapy, his mother Muoi Thoi said, and the result was hopeful.  The cancer had retreated.

With the help of Muoi Thoi’s brother in San Jose, the family immigrated to the United States—but by then the cancer had returned.  In 2002 Jackson had a bone marrow transplant.

Through years of treatment and home-schooling, Jackson deeply missed the company of students and teachers, the rhythm and life of school.  He fought to stay in Sylvandale Middle School and graduated in a wheelchair.

He was frail and seriously ill but he wished to be in school.

“I don’t know where that comes from,” said his mother, flipping sadly through the meticulous school notebooks that Jackson kept in a blue and gray knapsack.  “He just loved school so much.”

When doctors told the family that Jackson had months to live, he had a wish.  He wanted to spend his final days going to classes, doing homework—just being a regular student.

“Any child who’s that passionate about school, who’s so determined to do homework even when he is seriously ill, has a lesson that we—adults and children—should all learn from,” said Bryan Cong Do, a San Jose real estate consultant.

“We all have limitations, but we must overcome and accept it and move forward.  To me that’s Jackson’s story.”

That lesson was clear to many students and teachers at Andrew Hill, who wrote, spoke, sang, and recited in poetry the inspiration they drew from Jackson.  A memorial wall in the cafeteria was covered with their sentiments in French, Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Spanish, and English.

Siempre en nuestro corazon (always in our hearts),” wrote one student.

Teacher Julie Hoving noted that many students find excuses not to do work.  “He was the opposite of that,” said Hoving.  “He wanted to be as involved in high school as he could.”

Jackson spent just two and a half months as a freshman at Andrew Hill, wheeled from classroom to classroom by his mother, who was equally determined to grant her son’s dying wish.  His final, half-finished homework was about people like Albert Einstein and Rosa Parks who influenced the lives of others by living lives of example.

“He was a really strong individual,” said ninth-grader Cindy Ngar, 14, who knew Jackson from Sylvandale.  “He really inspired me because he never gave up.  He inspired other kids but he didn’t know it.”

So determined was Jackson that on his bed at Stanford Hospital on a Monday—tethered to intravenous tubes dripping pain medication into his bloodstream—he called his sister Linh Huynh, a freshman at Evergreen Community College, with a plea, “Don’t forget to pick up my homework so I can do it.”  He died that Thursday.

“He was strong in the head,” his mother said.  “Sometimes, I wanted him to stop because he was hurting.  He was hurting a lot.”

But not even the worst pain prevented Jackson from going to school.  In fact, school work, he told his mother, seemed the only salve for his pain.

“He told me not to cry,” Thoi said.  “He said, ‘If he had one day to live, I want to go to school.’”

He CHOSE to go to school.  He CHOSE to learn.

Page 303

Commanding a full page story in The First Days of School is our acknowledgment of the importance of Rosa Parks and the impact of her choice on our American rights.  Over the past 14 years, Page 303 remains unchanged—reminding us as educators we have the power to choose to become better educators for our children.

You can be a voice for quality and dignity in the profession.   Continue to grow and educate yourself.   Lead the way for others to follow in your professional beliefs:

  1. Continue to grow as an educator by reading the journals, the Internet, and going to workshops and conferences.
  2. Collaborate with each other and share the wealth of experiences you each encounter.
  3. Care for each child with respect and patience.
  4. Dress professionally.
  5. Create a culture of fairness and understanding in your classroom so the children can live it each day.
  6. Choose to make a difference in the life of a child.

We’ve been given the greatest charge on Earth—educating our children.  Exercise your power of choice.  Begin your action with one small act.  Make December 1, 2005, the day you recognize the legacy Rosa Parks delivered to us and use to it to transform yourself and the profession and create a classroom full of winners.

For a printable version of this article click here.

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