State association awards MHS instructor Teacher of the Year

Published 11:59 am Thursday, October 27, 2016

Teaching may be a job for some, but for others it is a calling.

For Azineth Buan, the Region 5 Secondary Teacher of the Year award recipient, it would seem to be the latter.

Buan teaches math at Memorial High School in Port Arthur. Specifically, Buan teaches Strategic Learning in Math, which is geared toward students who had failed Algebra 1.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Buan teaches Grades 10, 11 and 12.

“Before I teach the content, I need to connect with the kids. I love them and respect them,” Buan said.

“I’m always learning. I appreciate constructive criticism because every single day I’m learning.”

Buan spoke of how her education proceeds through a typical school day.

“The first class period is my guinea pig,” Buan said with a laugh. “I practice and see what works and what doesn’t. By the last period of the day, it’s perfect.”

Some students exhibited a habit of ignoring the day’s lesson, but Buan assured, “Once they know me, you won’t see that.”

Buan spoke well of a student in particular who had made great strides toward turning his academic career around.

“You’d always see him putting his head down on the desk and not participating; but now, he’s a top student.”

Buan has been an educator for 19 years, 10 of which were in her home country, the Philippines.

“I spent six years teaching at a Chinese school there,” Buan said. “We were training the students for competition. It was great.”

Buan also taught for two years at the college where she graduated from, Angeles University Foundation.

Buan has been teaching at Memorial for five years.

Yet teaching was not something Buan had always wanted to do.

“At first, I didn’t want to become a teacher. Since I was young, I played office. I’ve held money for my brother who was in engineering. I wanted to become an accountant.

“But my mom said since I was the youngest, I had to be a teacher.”

Thus, Buan went to college, but not for teaching. Not at first.

“I went to college and took the entrance test and took the admission slip for accounting to my mom. She said, ‘You have to take education or nursing or you don’t get it.’

“When she saw my slip, she told my brother to go back, change the slip and change the course.

“I cried because I wanted to be an accountant. I couldn’t do nursing because I’m afraid of blood,” Buan said.

“(But) to follow my parents, I went into education. I got a good result on my test and I was admitted into the BS Education (program) in Math.”

It may not have happened at once, but Buan later decided that seeking a career in education was the best course for her.

“I realized from high school I’ve been best at teaching,” Buan said. “My mom was an instrument of God. She knew what I’d be good at. It’s definitely a calling.”

Buan would even go on to thank her mother for being difficult with her.

“I thank my mom for making me cry, for pulling me from the accounting course.”

For the Memorial math teacher, her parents were the reason she succeeded in the first place.

“My mother and father are my inspiration. They never completed high school — my mom finished 6th grade and my dad only finished 1st grade — but they are really smart people.”

Buan commented on the hardships of her childhood and family’s economic status.

“I really did not expect how difficult it was — the kind of living was difficult. Instead of luxury, the money (we made) was for education and the offering to God.

“Our parents had the mindset that no matter what, our kids will get degrees, will finish school.

“It was important to them because they had never finished school.”

As a result, Buan said that her and her siblings “finished one after the other.”

Buan spoke well of both her high school and college education, and the rigors it prepared her for.

“At my first school, I was a floating teacher,” Buan said. “I substituted for any teachers who were absent, including those classes with senior students.

“If one teacher is absent, you have to fill in, even if they were teaching senior levels.

“That’s why my training in math is very rigid and I’m grateful for that.”

Buan had been one of 20 Math majors at the AUF when she went to college; she said that only four majors had graduated from that same year.

Buan said that in developing her own teaching method, she borrowed from other teachers and also crafted one especially her own.

“I had teachers from high school whose classes I started loving and hating at the same time in math,” Buan said.

“Some teachers were too low-key when instructing, and I was wondering, ‘How will I learn from you?’”

Buan cited a professor who could not finish the problem that he had put up on the board for his class to do. She saw it as further motivation to improve her skill.

“We had him kicked out because he didn’t know what he was doing,” she said.

“If I’m challenged, I will do it. I never stand up in my class without knowing what I’m talking about.

“I have to be ready for my kids,” Buan said.

“Even the negative aspects I had in school, they instilled something positive in me. If I didn’t see the negative things, I wouldn’t be me now.

“That made me a better teacher.”

On winning the Texas Association of School Administrators’ award for Region 5 Secondary Teacher of the Year, Buan expressed gratitude.

“I feel honored and humbled at the same time. I thank God. It’s His will. It’s doing what’s best for the kids.”

Buan showed further deference for her faith in being recognized for such an honor.

“God will show others what you’re doing. You’re not teaching for show because God is always watching you.

“I’m here now. God put me here for a reason.”

Buan emphasized how important it was to talk to the students and know what’s going on in their lives, and how respect is earned.

In discussing the usual aversion to math that many people exhibit, Buan said that one has to deal with it mentally.

“That kind of mindset is the first thing I’m tackling with my students. You have to think you can do it.

“If they get the lesson you show them and they understand it, and you tell them they have it, they’ll never want to stop learning.”

And for students like Tiayana Clayton, Memorial sophomore and one of Mrs. Buan’s pupils, Buan’s style would seem to be paying off.

“Oh my God, it’s seriously good. I wish I had her before,” Clayton said, who entered Buan’s class at the beginning of the school year.

“Ever since I’ve been in her class, I’ve been making A’s and B’s.

“I think with her help, I’m going to nail it this year.”

In discussing Buan’s teaching method and why it worked, Clayton was clear.

“She takes her time with us, making sure we understand. And when she explains it, it makes sense.”