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Esther Chen

Math teacher Esther Chen in Amsterdam enjoying a vacation.

After spending the 2016-17 school year coaching middle school girls and boys volleyball, Esther Chen joins UPA this year as a Math 8 and Integrated Math 3 teacher.

Teaching Experience

Prior to teaching at UPA, Chen taught at Brownell Middle School in Gilroy for one year.

She received her undergraduate degree in math education at New York University, and her master’s degree in communication and education at Columbia University.

Her career as a math teacher seems to be an anomaly, as Chen admitted that she never really enjoyed math.

She found herself frequently having to either teach herself or receive help from a tutor due to a lack of quality math teachers.

However “… because of that,” she said, “I wanted to [make sure] other students wouldn’t find math to be such a daunting, abstract subject.”

As a teacher, Chen treasures her ability to help others grow and develop every day.

“I enjoyed the reward of being able to educate and [see] improvements among students,” Chen said, “especially that ‘aha’ moment.”

Although teaching can be challenging at times, she reaches out to students and builds relationships with them, some which might last for a long time.

​“Teaching has taught me to be patient and to find multiple ways to teach something so that it makes sense to different learners,” Chen said. “It also has taught me how to motivate and teach struggling students.”

Volleyball Experience

“I tried out for middle school volleyball when I was a seventh grader and an eighth grader,” Chen said. “I didn’t make either of those years [and] was almost about to give up, but I was like, ‘No, I like volleyball. I think I could be good at it.’”

The summer after eighth grade, Chen attended a summer camp and as a result made the junior varsity team during her freshman year at Cupertino High School.

She made the varsity team her junior year and also joined an outside club team, Point Break, with UPA Athletics Director Bill Fowler as her coach.

While studying abroad in London during her time at Columbia University, she joined the University of London’s women volleyball team and played for Columbia University as well.

As an experienced volleyball player, Chen brings her first-hand experience to the table when coaching the team.

“A volleyball team is very successful if the team bonds together,” she said. “There is cohesion on the court; nobody is their own person because you can only touch the ball once so you rely on each other to get the ball over the net.”

Chen’s ultimate goal is to prepare her team for the high school level and to make the players as “confident, comfortable and successful” as they can be.