How I Got Here – Kevin Chung

Kevin Chung is the art teacher of A-TECH. He won the Heart of Education award in 2018, so it’s not by mistake that he is a favored teacher. In fact, he’s one of the most popular teachers in this school. When there’s a whisper about him shoved into a conversation, it’s usually positive.  However, how did he get to where he is now?

Chung’s story started when he first came to the USA, traveling all the way from Vietnam.

“I spent 9 months at a refugee camp on an island, and then I came to the USA. Growing up was tough because English was my second language. You had to overcome the language barrier and then learn the curriculum at the same time,” Chung said.

Once he hit high school, he attended Burnsville Senior High School, a little school off in Burnsville, Minnesota. He commented on how it was an okay school. This is where he initially became interested in art, when he first took an art class junior year.

“I had a good art teacher in high school. They gave me the opportunity to pursue my talent,” Chung explained.

Afterwards, Chung attended college at the University of Minnesota. He started as an engineering major, but changed it later.

“I didn’t necessarily like [engineering] as much because of the computer science components. You have to learn to code, and I wasn’t much of a coder. I wasn’t very good at seeing the details,” Chung stated.

He then switched majors to do something he was passionate about: fine arts and teaching.

“I like to work with people, not objects,” Chung said.

Chung also stated that Vincent Van Gogh was one of the main influences for his art during college. Chung said Van Gogh influenced what he did and how he did artwork when he was in college, saying “It wasn’t like ‘you have to do exactly this way’ or something. He was the one who broke the mold and said ‘I’m going to paint with lines, not strokes.’”

He also said that his favorite artwork from Van Gogh would be the Starry Night or the Sunflower.

“The Starry Night is the way that Vincent Van Gogh interpreted the way he sees [things]. The Sunflower is just, the cheerfulness, the playfulness, and the way he handled the paint,” Chung commented.

This love of the two artworks even blends into A-TECH, one the three painted pillars that surround the atrium is the Starry Night and the Sunflower.

From there, he worked at 4 other schools before coming to A-TECH: Basic High, Del Sol High, Silverado High School, and Ed W. Clark High School.

“I don’t know [if I like any of the other schools over another]. It’s like, different schools have different culture, so it’s kinda hard to really say it. It’s one thing or another,” Chung explained.

He then was able to come to A-TECH. He got the job when “the previous art teacher posted an opening; I contacted her and she contacted the principal, and a friend of mine contacted the principal, and the next thing I knew I got an interview. Then, I was off with a job.”

Kevin Chung then went to coach Model Bridge Club, Science Olympiads, and became the supervisor of the Art Club here at A-TECH.

“The students asked me for it and it’s kinda hard to deny them,” Chung stated. “I’ve tried to find the time to give them the opportunity to participate in those various contests and get involved because involvement is the key component for them after they graduate college. If you’re not involved, you’re not going to have experience. It’s going to be a hard time for you to find a job.”

When Chung won the Heart of Education award last year, he was in Chicago participating in a Model Bridge Contest.

“I was surprised. There’s a lot of very good people out there that are qualified for it, and I didn’t think I had a chance at it,” Chung said.

From here is the future, and there’s no sign of Chung leaving anytime soon.

“I’m content where I’m at now,” Chung concluded. “I have an opportunity to do things that I like, [things] that mean a lot.”