MUSCATINE, Iowa–An enthusiastic teacher of Chinese language and culture and a positive influence on her students, Heidi Quo has taught at Muscatine High School for five years, bringing the joys of language learning to many students. In recognition of her efforts and her goals to give her students even more opportunities in the future, Quo earned one of the first three U. S. Heartland Chinese Teacher Awards, presented by the United States Heartland China Association.
An experienced teacher, Quo came to the United States from Taiwan because of her husband’s work. She has found she quite enjoys Muscatine and all of the students who take her classes. “This is a great and sweet place–I like it very much,” she stated.
For the past five years, she has worked to grow Muscatine Community School District’s Chinese program. Quo uses each chapter of her curriculum not only to help student learn how to read and speak Chinese, but to introduce them to Chinese culture too. Throughout their studies, students bind their own books using a traditional Chinese method, try out calligraphy writing using authentic brushes and paper, and play popular Chinese games.
At major holidays, such as Chinese New Year, Quo and her students make dumplings, egg rolls, or fried rice to sample authentic Chinese foods. Throughout the year, Quo decorates her classroom with beautiful paper lanterns and the zodiac symbols that represent the current year of the Chinese calendar to immerse students in their cultural learning.
To extend students learning further, Quo has started working with the Sarah Lande Friendship Education Fund to provide fieldtrips to Chinatown in Chicago at no cost to her students. She also partners with Global Education at the Stanley Center to provide in classroom exploration opportunities, such as taking virtual reality tours of important sites, such as the Great Wall of China. In the future, Quo hopes to coordinate exchanges to China for her students, allowing them to see first hand the concepts they learn about in class.
Because learning a language takes a long time and proves easier for younger students, Quo has worked to make Chinese available to junior high school students too. To that end, she now teaches several elective Chinese classes at Susan Clark Junior High School.
In addition to providing them the best possible learning experiences, Quo also makes sure her students always feel comfortable in her class. From popcorn Fridays to friendly check ins with students to make sure they have a good day, Quo does everything she can to put her students at ease. “I like to talk to each kid,” she said. I want to be their family.”
Her students appreciate her concern and care for them. One of her students, 10th grader Paige, shared, “whenever anyone is sad, she makes them feel better.”
When Quo leaned that she would receive one of the U. S. Heartland Chinese Teacher Awards, which comes with a monetary prize as well, she felt elated. “I keep thinking about what more I can get and give to them,” she shared. “I want to challenge myself more to do more for them.”