ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Congratulations to our next Golden Apple Award winner, Chanthadeth Oyphanith!
Oyphanith has been a history teacher at the Leadership Academy for Young Men since the school opened in 2011.
He came to the United States with his parents in 1980. As a refugee, Oyphanith was escaping communism in Laos. He grew up in the Seventh Ward, but when he turned 12, his parents moved their family to Webster.
“I saw the difference between equity between urban and suburban, and Webster and the city, two whole different school systems,” Oyphanith said. “In 10th grade I realized I want to give back to the community that gave back to me, because we have so much in this country. We have American privilege.”
So Oyphanith joined the army for 6 years, paid for his undergrad, went to Geneseo for college, and then became a teacher in Rochester.
“I remember telling my professor, I’m gonna teach in the city. They’re like as a person of color, you can teach anywhere. I was like I belong in the city. So both my student placements were in the city,” he said.
For 17 years, Oyphanith has been teaching in the city. His unique teaching capabilities and classroom rituals are what makes him extra special.
“It’s rare to have a teacher that makes connections with the kid, and gives that great of instruction. And he’s been doing it for so long. He’s so unique. You really have to see it to believe it,” said Tamara Murphy, a Special Ed Teacher at Leadership Academy of Young Men.
Murphy has been teaching alongside Oyphanith for 10 years. Seeing the way he impacts his students and really influences the way they learn, is why she nominated him for a Golden Apple Award.
“It’s always something different. He mixes and matches it, he does the mindfulness movement in it. It’s not just… you’re just sitting there bored to tears. You’re actually enjoying learning. And that’s so rare,” Murphy said.
When News 8 visited Oyphanith’s classroom to present him with the award, we got a first-hand look at just how special his classroom is.
At the start and end of each class period, he starts with music. He also does yoga in his classroom, where he makes a connection between the names of different yoga poses and a historical leader.
Dr. Djinga St. Louis, the principal at the Leadership Academy for Young Men, said Oyphanith’s different way of teaching has captivated students.
“Mr. O is a teacher that our students respect highly. They make sure that they are on time for his class, they always express how much they learn in his class and how much they’re interested in the way that he’s teaching and how he makes life, the learning of global history, really relevant to what’s going on in the world today,” St. Louis said.
Oyphanith said his favorite part about teaching at Leadership, the only public all-men’s school in Rochester, is the relationships he gets to make with students.
“I’ve taught thousands between regular school and summer school and every different student is a different connection,” he said. “I still talk to past students. Some of them are in IT, they make twice as much money as I make, like, ‘now you gotta take me out to lunch.'”
Congratulations to Mr. Oyphanith for winning a Golden Apple Award!
If you know a teacher you’d like to nominate for a Golden Apple Award, you can fill out a nomination form by clicking here.