When you walk into room C206, you are most likely greeted with a sarcastic insult from a man whose head shines when the light hits it just right. You are sure to hear him mocking Mr. Krusz, and you may even hear the two of them arguing with each other while standing in their doorways. You are bound to learn a lot, but you most likely will find yourself being taken on a tangent that is based upon whatever you’re talking about. When the semester or year comes to an end, you will most likely find yourself in a state where you wish you could take another class with this teacher because not only were you able to learn, but you were also able to find a class you enjoyed being in. He is a teacher who is famous amongst the students at LHS because of his sense of humor and good natured bantering. Every student knows the name Mr. Yip.
Recently, Yip won Lincoln’s Teacher of the Year and was in the running for the Rhode Island Teacher of the Year as one of four finalists who waited to find out who moves to the final round of two.
The process to get there was a long and tedious one. After receiving phone call after phone call from Superintendent Georgia Fortunato about his application, Yip decided to apply. It was 15 pages in length that included a resume, six 500-word essays, and letters of recommendation from Fortunato, Principal Kevin McNamara, and Mr. Jay Schofield, a colleague.
Once the paper application was complete, he was chosen along with seven other finalists to be part of the interview process. Following the interview process, the group of finalists were cut in half for the next round, which entailed even more. A few of their classes were viewed, and the students within those classes were given a survey to fill out about their teacher’s methods. Colleagues were interviewed as well in order to get a more holistic view of the candidates.
Unfortunately, Yip did not make it to the final round. However, the fact that he was part of the final four is still a great accomplishment, and teachers and students alike have much praise for Yip. McNamara comments, “I believe that Mr. Yip’s commitment to self-reflection is exemplary. He works very hard to ensure that his students are engaged in his lessons and brings a great passion to his work. I’m lucky to work alongside many exemplary educators like Mr. Yip at LHS. As a colleague, I can count on him to be honest, thoughtful and respectful in our discussions. I know that he works tremendously hard to make LHS a better place.”
Fortunato also commends Yip’s work here as she has been working with him for 24 years. “It has been a distinct honor working with him,” comments Fortunato, adding that “when I was a special education teacher here, he would always follow the students’ IEPs which made my life easier. He took it very seriously. He is someone who banters with the kids, and his quick wit sticks with them. He does whatever he needs to in order to meet the students’ needs no matter how reluctant the learner.”
Students agree with both McNamara and Fortunato. Those who have had Yip in class praise him for both being a great teacher as well as friend. Senior Isaac Paul had Yip freshman year for history and sees him as an “older, wiser friend who happens to teach and isn’t afraid to ream you out in front of the entire class.”
Yip is known for going off on tangents on occasion, and that is part of the reason why students love him. “We go off on tangents discussing totally unrelated subjects that are infinitely fascinating and beneficial to discuss, despite not being remotely related to the subject at hand,” Paul states.
Sophomore Dan Crowley agrees with Paul and goes on to state that “a class with Mr. Yip requires you to constantly be on your toes, you never know when he’s going to make a joke about the topic, make a joke about you, or just go on a complete tangent which, while mostly being unimportant, are almost always important sounding.”
His class is always memorable due to his unique activities. One iconic activity that he uses to teach his classes about Feudalism is the Feudalism game. Both Crowley and Paul recognize it as a favorite memory of being in Yip’s class with Paul being victorious in overthrowing Yip while Crowley was not so lucky: “A few of my friends attempted to overthrow Mr. Yip from his spot as “king”. To say the least, it was a failure due to lack of support from the rest of the class, we were all killed.”
This nomination is a monumental achievement, but Yip views it not as an achievement for great teaching, but as for being a voice for all teachers. “I’m under no illusion that I’m anywhere close to being the best teacher in the building, but this isn’t about being the best. It’s about being a voice…It truly is an honor.”
However, Yip remains modest in his nomination and (jokingly) believes he got it by “managing to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.” He comments, “I do what I think I have to do, and I’m just very very happy that people appreciate what I do.”