Lincoln High calculus teacher Anthony Yom has given his students the desire to learn and the will to succeed. While his classes are challenging, the educator does all he can to keep his students invested, incorporating real-life situations into his lessons to show them the value of their work. “He challenges us to the max, so we do better on tests,” sophomore student Alexis Pong told the Los Angeles Times. To validate this statement, one of Yom’s other students, 17-year-old Cedrick Argueta, received a perfect score on the Advanced Placement Calculus exam. Only 12 students in the world accomplished this feat. As for all of Yom’s other AP Calculus students, every single one of them passed the challenging exam.
“Most of the credit should go to the kids,” Yom asserts, though he does go above and beyond for his students. However, when he first started teaching at Lincoln High, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Aside from experiencing a culture shock, Yom felt intimated by the number of students who were unmotivated and unprepared. Some even attempted to physically intimidate the teacher. Nonetheless, many students inspired the teacher to keep going because they truly appreciated his efforts. That’s when Yom worked to get to know his students, began calling their homes if they needed extra help with homework, and gave up his free time to tutor on weekends and during vacations.
At Lincoln High, 80% of the student body is Latino and Yom hopes to encourage more of these individuals to take his college-prep classes, which are currently dominated by Asians. “I don’t think the Asian students are any smarter than the Latino students,” the teacher states, mentioning that low Latino participation can be connected to cultural differences and expectations. Fortunately, Cedrick Argueta’s AP Calculus success story serves as the perfect example. “My mother cleans houses,” Argueta reveals. “My father is a factory worker.” The student would one day like to work for NASA or become a teacher.
As for the key to Yom’s success as a teaching? “This may sound corny, but you really have to love them,” the devoted instructor beautifully concludes. “You build this trust, and at that point, whatever you ask them to do, they’ll go the extra mile. The recipe is love.”
Above photo via Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times
“Cedrick Argueta, left, a senior at Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights, and his math instructor, Anthony Yom, show off one of the AP Calculus T-shirts that students wore to their exam last spring.” Photo via Al Seib / Los Angeles Times