Chang named Chinese Teacher of the Year



Fu Tseng Chang was recently named the Massachusetts Foreign Language Council 2019 Chinese teacher of the year. According to Chang, this award is thanks to his students.

Long after the halls of the high school are emptied, Fu Tseng Chang, known to Chinese students as Zhang Laoshi, can be found elbow-deep in work with students, aiding them long past the “official” end of his day.
His dedication to his work and his students is one of the many reasons why Chang was named Chinese Teacher of the Year by the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFA) this October. Colleagues of Chang say the award is a much-deserved recognition of work Chang has put towards improving the education of students taking Chinese.
According to MaFA’s official website, the award is “intended to elevate the status of our profession and to create opportunities to recognize our most accomplished world language teachers and language advocates” and is in recognition of a teacher who demonstrates an “outstanding performance in the classroom, enthusiasm and passion for the teaching and learning of languages and enthusiasm and love of children.”
Chang has always had an innovative approach to teaching. According to World Language Curriculum Coordinator Agnès Albérola, he is unafraid to incorporate movement and energy into his lessons to engage students. Fellow Chinese teacher Lihua Shorter said Chang cares immensely for his students.
“We always tease each other about how we’ve studied English for all these years, and yet we still struggle,” Shorter said. “He has a lot of compassion for students who are learning a different language because he knows how hard it is. He understands the struggle. As long as you’re willing to try, he’s there to support you.”
Chang’s compassion is present in his goals for his students throughout the school year, according to Albérola. Chang hopes to create a safe environment in his classroom where everyone feels safe making mistakes. He also understands that high school is difficult for students, so he strives to meet them halfway.

Chinese teacher Fu Tseng Chang (far right) poses with his AP Chinese class. Chang was recognized for his dedication to his students. He frequently works late after school with students to ensure they understand the material.

“I personally like to put myself in their shoes. I always say to my students, ‘I know high school students. You have so many things going on, not just Chinese,’” Chang said. “That’s why I say, ‘if you have any problems or questions, come to me. Send me an email. Ask for an extension.’ And the answer is always yes.”
Shorter said that meeting students halfway sometimes means staying after school and working with a student, something Chang does frequently.
“Every year there’s a student who really struggles. One year, Mr. Chang stayed every day after school going through the work with them. He basically had to teach the entire lesson again to one individual student,” Shorter said. “He does it because he has the ability and he cares enough about the student. I don’t think anybody else in the building can do what he does.”
Chang’s compassion goes beyond the walls of the high school. A few years ago, according to Albérola, Chang went to New York City to visit a particular company that produced teaching materials for Chinese classes. While visiting and speaking with the workers, he learned that the workers were being mistreated by their boss.
Instead of simply sitting with that knowledge, Chang took action. After messaging their boss and notifying them of his displeasure, he returned to the high school and led a boycott against the company. The high school no longer uses their materials.
Despite his talents, Chang remains humble. According to Chang, he hadn’t originally planned to attend the annual MaFA conference where he would be awarded, but with some pushing by the former head of the Chinese Branch of the program, he attended to show his support. He was extremely surprised that he had been chosen for the award and admitted that he did not like being in the spotlight at all.
“There are so many wonderful Chinese teachers out there. I just want to do my job right, that’s all,” Chang said.
Shorter said Chang’s modest nature was front and center after he received the award.
“He didn’t tell me he had won the award on Monday. My boss came into the room and said ‘Congratulations!’ and I said to him, ‘Seriously? I had to find out this way?’” Shorter said.
But Chang, sticking to his modest personality, deferred his success to the students who make the high school home for him.
“I think BHS is the students,” Chang said. “BHS students are amazing. It’s them who make this school famous. They make the school shine and make us proud. It’s not me.“