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David Wu’s open letter to Wilson

This is an open letter written by Wilson substitute and DCPS alum David Wu. It was submitted to 

As a DCPS alumnus 42 years ago (from erstwhile Gordon and Western – today’s Hardy and Duke Ellington), it was with pride and joy and I was given an opportunity to help Ms. Mismash through her maternity leave. As a fully licensed DCPS teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure to teach 165 students in Physics, Introduction to Engineering Design, and Civil Engineering and Architecture courses. I lived through the rewarding and challenging moments where I saw many motivated students strive to learn, athletes trying hard to be scholar athletes, while I learn to find ways to motivate those who lost hope.

In 1975, I went on local DC television with the DC Superintendent of School (the equivalent of DCPS Chancellor Antwon Wilson) debating DCPS’s foreign language(s) requirement before there was an English grammar requirement. My heart never left DCPS in my career that started as a consultant to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I worked for Fortune 500 companies like Boeing and Honeywell, and managed Private Equity investments. I was also Chief Financial Officer of a NASDAQ listed high technology telecommunications chip designer company before I taught graduate and undergraduate college students prior to my DCPS teaching license.

Today’s DCPS students focus heavily on grade point average when it is far more important to learn skills and knowledge to prepare for a much longer life after DCPS. My fellow teachers face incredible pressure from all sides ranging from no labor contract for five years, through rigorous IMPACT evaluation in an environment where no child can be left behind. I am not a sociologist, but I am mindful that six hours of school for about 200 school days in a 365-day year represent much about 10% of a student’s life. There are many student issues beyond the control of teachers. DCPS teachers deserve much more respect and admiration than they are recognized, especially those who mentor and welcome new teachers such as Ms. Benjamin. I have also learned and experienced lack of respect from long term teachers toward substitute teachers, creating another gap within our teaching community.

Wilson has a fantastic community, as reflected by the PTSO that purchased a 3D printer to benefit engineering students and enhanced STEAM curriculum. Today, Wilson’s engineering students can design and fabricate their projects, instead of just designing on paper. Fabrication will greatly enhance students’ engineering experience. I was also given a chance to participate in Wilson’s Family Engagement Laboratory, an important project to encourage collaboration between families and teachers to help the students. I hope meaningful actions will be taken to further enhance the Wilson community.

Thanks, Wilson, for this unforgettable experience. I will definitely remember this experience as I write my book on “Moral Innovations.” Let’s thrive with knowledge of our place in the world. We can do the right things and make it better.