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Zhuang Yuanjun: A Dedicated Educator’s Mission to Put Students First

LifestyleZhuang Yuanjun: A Dedicated Educator's Mission to Put Students First

Zhuang Yuanjun is a dedicated educator who has faced and overcome numerous challenges in his mission to put his students first. For the past 37 years, he has been devoted to his position working in the rural area of Linjiang city in Northeast China’s Jilin province. During this time, he has helped more than 200 students leave the remote mountain region and pursue higher education and better opportunities.

Born into a rural family in Luannitang village of Liudaogou township in Linjiang in 1963, Zhuang’s passion for teaching began early on in life. After graduating from senior high school in 1986, he was appointed to teach at the village primary school. It was there that his life became tightly linked to his students.

As the only teacher at the school, Zhuang faced a number of challenges. The school was nothing more than a small room, which was used as both a classroom and the teacher’s office. All the students of different grades had to have lessons in the same classroom. Despite the lack of resources, Zhuang was determined to provide the best possible education to his students.

Over the years, Zhuang has worked tirelessly to overcome the challenges facing his students. He has been instrumental in helping them gain access to better education opportunities and has worked hard to improve the quality of education in the region.

Despite the challenges, Zhuang has remained committed to his students and their education. He has spent countless hours preparing lessons, providing one-on-one support to students who need it, and helping them to prepare for exams. His dedication has not gone unnoticed, and he has become a respected figure in the community.

For Zhuang, his work is not just a job, but a calling. He believes that education is the key to a better future, and he is determined to help his students succeed. Through his tireless efforts, Zhuang has become an inspiration to his students and to educators everywhere.

Zhuang’s story is a testament to the power of education and the dedication of those who are committed to making a difference in the lives of others. Despite the challenges he has faced, he has never given up on his students or his mission to provide them with the best possible education.

Zhuang Yuanjun not only dedicated himself to teaching his students, but he also worked tirelessly to improve their learning environment. Recognizing the limited space and resources, he divided the blackboard into different sections for students from different grades and alternated lessons between them. This creative approach helped him make the most of the limited resources available to him.

During his free time, Zhuang tirelessly worked to improve the school’s conditions. He realized that the school building was in dire need of repair and enlisted the help of his relatives to fix the walls and build two latrines with wooden boards. In order to conserve coal during the winter, he and his students would go to the mountains to collect fallen tree branches to use as firewood.

In 1991, Zhuang was presented with an opportunity to work at the township government. However, he was hesitant to leave his students behind. He realized that if he left, there would be no one to teach the students, and he didn’t want them to suffer. After much thought, he decided to give up the opportunity and stay at the school, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to his students.

Zhuang’s efforts did not go unnoticed. In 2003, he was awarded the title of “Excellent Rural Teacher” by the Jilin Provincial Government. The following year, he was invited to the National People’s Congress as a representative of the rural areas in Jilin.

Through his hard work, dedication, and selflessness, Zhuang has made a positive impact on the lives of his students and the community. His story is a testament to the power of education and the importance of educators who are willing to go above and beyond to help their students succeed.

In 2006, the number of students attending rural schools in Liudaogou township continued to decline, leading to the closure of several village schools, including the one where Zhuang taught. As a result, his students were integrated into the central primary school in the township. However, there was a shortage of teachers in Xiangyang village school for first and second-grade students after a stand-in teacher retired. After hearing about the vacant position, Zhuang applied and became the sole teacher at the school once again.

At the time, Zhuang lived 18 kilometers away from the school in a township without any public transportation. He had to ride a motorcycle to work every day, regardless of the weather. The mountain path was steep, and it took him at least an hour each way. Despite numerous falls and injuries, Zhuang persisted, believing that the children’s education was his responsibility.

Apart from teaching Chinese language and mathematics, Zhuang also taught fine arts and music to his students. He put a great deal of time and preparation into these lessons to ensure that the children received a well-rounded education. Zhuang also prioritized his students’ health, given the challenging working environment.

However, the years of teaching in remote areas took a toll on Zhuang’s health. He developed serious arthritis and heart disease, which made it difficult for him to continue teaching. Yet, he refused to give up on his students and continued to teach despite his health problems. Zhuang even took on additional responsibilities, such as serving as the school’s accountant, to ensure that the school could continue to operate smoothly.

Zhuang’s dedication to his students did not go unnoticed. He was awarded the title of “excellent rural teacher” by the provincial government and was honored as a “national model educator” by the Ministry of Education. In 2020, he was also selected as one of China’s “most beautiful rural teachers.”

Zhuang’s legacy continues today. Many of his former students have gone on to attend college, with some even becoming teachers themselves. They credit their success to Zhuang’s dedication and guidance. Zhuang’s impact on his students’ lives is a testament to the power of a passionate and dedicated teacher.

After the Xiangyang village school closed in 2017, Zhuang and his students were moved to the township’s central primary school where he became the head teacher of grade-one students, teaching Chinese language and math. The improved teaching environment and classroom space allowed Zhuang to have more time and energy to devote to his work, and he was thrilled to see his students in larger and brighter classrooms.

Throughout his career, Zhuang has supported several students who could not afford fees, books, or meals. He continues to subsidize lunch for two students in the central school, at a cost of around 300 yuan ($43.3) per student per month. His unwavering dedication to his students has earned him numerous honors, including being named a “national model of learning from Lei Feng”, “the most beautiful teacher of Linjiang,” and “excellent rural teacher” by the city.

Zhuang’s decades of selfless service have even influenced his daughter, Zhuang Hewei, who also became a teacher at the same school after passing the recruitment exam in 2020. She credits her father for inspiring her to follow in his footsteps and hopes to become as excellent a teacher as he is. “I hope I can help more students seek a bright future,” she says.

Zhuang’s commitment to his students goes beyond just their academic success. Over the years, he has also provided financial assistance to those in need, going above and beyond his duty as a teacher. His dedication to the well-being of his students has earned him the respect and admiration of many, and his influence on their lives extends far beyond the classroom.

Although his career has taken a toll on his health, Zhuang remains undeterred in his pursuit of helping his students. Despite suffering from serious arthritis and heart disease, he continues to teach with the same passion and dedication as he did when he first started. His tireless efforts to make a difference in his students’ lives have left an indelible mark on the community, inspiring others to follow his example.

Zhuang’s legacy is a testament to the transformative power of education, and his commitment to his students serves as a reminder that a teacher’s impact extends far beyond the classroom. His selflessness, dedication, and unwavering commitment to his students make him a true hero in their eyes and an inspiration to us all.

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