2021 End of Year Update

June 18, 2021

Dear Yu Ming Families,

As we near the end of this truly unprecedented year, we take this opportunity to reflect on the past year and to look ahead to the next. We have so much to be proud of as a community, particularly in this year of enormous challenges and uncertainty, and I wanted to highlight some of our successes:

  • Renewing Yu Ming’s charter for another six years with performance that qualified Yu Ming as a high track charter school.
  • Graduating our third class of eighth graders after 100% passed their Graduate Profile Defenses and matriculating to many high-quality high schools–charter, district, and private. Congratulations!
  • Achieving excellent student attendance and engagement throughout the year at 99.99% average daily attendance.
  • Opening a Distance Learning Center from the start that provided continuity of school access and care to students that needed it most.
  • Designing and staffing multiple academic programs including full Distance Learning and two simultaneous programs of Hybrid and Distance Learning.
  • Meeting our end-of-year goals in our core academic areas assessed so far, including 89% meeting/exceeding end-of-year targets in English reading and 87% in Chinese reading.
  • Ensuring student social emotional care and enriched learning was supported without interruption through weekly Circles and PE, art, and music classes. 
  • Hosting community-building events both virtually and in person that included affinity wellness circles, on-campus and off-campus grade level playdates, multiple cultural and community celebrations, end-of-year parties, and an in-person graduation.
  • Securing a campus for our Kindergarten growth of three new classes–part of our five-year Strategic Plan to achieve financial sustainability and grow Yu Ming’s impact.
  • Administering 1500 COVID-19 tests for all staff and students with 0 positive tests and 0 transmissions at Yu Ming.
  • Meeting our spring auction and benefit goal and creating a Yu Ming Night Live event that brought our community together for all our students.

Thank you, incredible Yu Ming community! As a result of your relentless dedication and contributions to our school, together we ensured the quality of Yu Ming’s program remained uncompromised throughout this pandemic year. Thank you to our FSO fundraising committee for leading us in this critical work: Christina Chang, Jamie Chen. Karen Geiger, Colleen Lee, Ni Lee, Shu-yi Lin, Carl Pascual, Chris Sonne, Diana Sonne, David Tjen, Chris Tarnas and Karen You. 

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the many victories of this year or the people who made it possible. We have so much to be grateful for over a truly challenging 15 months. Yu Ming’s success came from the love and care of all members of our community. 

The end of the year is also a time when we say goodbye to community members who are leaving the school as we prepare to welcome new members next school year. Today, I share the transition news of two members of our Leadership Team who have given so much over the years to our Yu Ming community–Lower School Assistant Principal Mellisa Jew and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Xinyi Xu.

Mellisa Jew joined Yu Ming as an English teacher three years ago and then served as Lower School Assistant Principal for the past two years. Mellisa is a leader that always puts students’ well being and success at the center of all that she does and leads with her whole heart and genuine care. She leaves an indelible mark on Yu Ming with her vibrant community meetings filled with inclusive celebrations and joy, a strengthened English Learner program, our pilot to build increased student agency in our early grades, and her work to ensure Yu Ming lives up to our values of belongingness and equity. Mellisa writes:

I will be moving back to San Francisco Unified School District as an Assistant Principal next school year. My former principal from SFUSD had reached out to me for help. Although it was a hard decision to leave Yu Ming, it was a heart decision for me to move back to support my former school and staff of many years (12 years) in San Francisco. I am so proud of having been a part of this amazing group of educators, people from our teacher assistants, office staff to our classroom teachers and leaders. Thank you for the opportunities that you have given me to show up each day and serve you. It has been an honor. 

Mellisa will be sorely missed at the Lower School, but we are so happy she will remain in our community as an active Yu Ming parent of a 3rd grader and Kindergartener. Stepping in to the Lower School Assistant Principal position is Shuli de la Fuente-Lau whose bio is below. 

Xinyi Xu joined our community in 2012 when Yu Ming was only in its second year and operating from Oakland Chinatown. In addition to being a beloved teacher, Xinyi held a variety of Leadership Team roles before becoming our Director of Curriculum and Instruction. She has contributed to helping Yu Ming define and refine our approach to teaching and learning through our four model pillars and has been instrumental to building and leading our system for educator professional learning and coaching, that is both people-centered and high-quality. She is a passionate leader in the field of Mandarin Immersion and has helped to build a program that is both nationally recognized and often emulated. Xinyi shares: 

After relocating to Michigan, I have slowly come to the difficult realization that remote work was not best suited for my current role at Yu Ming. It has been my pleasure to play a role in creating and developing this school over the past nine years. I am extremely proud of the work we’ve done together in building our blue-ribbon winning immersion program and I will always cherish the relationships I have built with colleagues, students, and community members along the way. My Yu Ming family will always hold a special place in my heart.

After an exhaustive search this past spring we are thrilled to welcome Pengpeng Jiang as our Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction. Pengpeng is both an experienced educator and active contributor to the Mandarin immersion field. We are also fortunate to have Yu Ming’s former Principal Celia Pascual returning for a year as Chief Academic Officer to help lead our academic program and support Pengpeng’s transition. Celia will also assist in the opening of our new Chestnut Campus lower school supporting Emilana Untulan Ewell who will serve as the campus Assistant Principal and Kindergarten English Teacher. You can read more about Pengpeng Jiang and Emilana Ewell below. 

Thank you again for helping Yu Ming emerge stronger from this year. We wish you a wonderful, and especially restorative summer. 

In community,

Sue Park
Head of School

Shuli de la Fuente-Lau, Lower School Assistant Principal (Alcatraz Campus)

Shuli de la Fuente-Lau most recently served as the K-2 Assistant Principal of Instruction at an Education for Change school in East Oakland. Prior to that, she served as an early literacy coach as K-2 Dean of Instruction. During her decade as a classroom teacher, she taught in traditional public schools and charter schools in East Oakland, as well as three years at an international school in Penang, Malaysia. As a school leader, she is committed to the deep and essential work of investing in teachers and co-creating a space where each and every student will thrive.

Shuli grew up in the Bay Area, and fell in love with Oakland when she first moved here 14 years ago, while attending UC Berkeley for her Masters of Education and teaching credential program. She is the mother of two daughters and passionate about the intersection of history and identity, children’s literature that serves as mirrors and windows, and holistic, joyful education. She loves good food, great literature, and traveling – ideally, all at the same time. 

Emilana Untalan Ewell, Lower School Assistant Principal (Chestnut Campus)

Emilana Untalan Ewell has been in education for fifteen years. Beginning as a first-grade teacher with Aspire Public Schools, then with Oakland Unified School District, before moving into other educational positions as instructional coach and Assistant Principal. From 2016 to 2018, she served as Teacher on Special Assignment (TSA) during the beginning of a school redesign, ultimately aligning instruction and culture/climate. From 2018 to 2021, she served as Assistant Principal for the same co-located schools as they merged into one large elementary school with a STEAM focus. 

Emilana graduated with a Bachelors of Arts from Cal State East Bay, and received her Master’s of Science in Education Administration and Administrative Credential through National University. Born in California, Emilana spent much of her childhood and school years following her mother to State Department posts in Prague, Ivory Coast, Tokyo, and Seoul. Emilana loves spending time with her family, practicing Judo, running, and dancing.

Pengpeng Jiang, Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction

Pengpeng Jiang has been active in the Chinese Immersion field for a decade since starting her teaching career at a National Blue Ribbon dual language immersion school in Oklahoma. She has been a classroom teacher for multiple grades and led the school’s Chinese Immersion Program for the last four years. Pengpeng also coached her school’s STEM Lego League Robotics and Coding Program and served as a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison. 

Pengpeng served as Early Language Learning Chair at the Oklahoma Foreign Language Teacher Association and served as the Vice President of the Oklahoma Chinese Language Teacher Association. She has organized state conferences and workshops for foreign language teachers and school administrators. As a Regional Association Representative for Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA) K-12 Committee. She is a contributor to the publication of CLTA K-12 Outstanding Chinese Works

Pengpeng has participated in various STARTALK Teacher Programs and has presented at several state and national conferences including ACTFL and NCLC on topics of instructional pedagogy, interdisciplinary curriculum development, and classroom management. Pengpeng also hosts a social media platform for K-16 Chinese teachers and heritage parents. Her platform’s online courses, training, coaching, and workshops in teaching and learning has contributed to Chinese learning for thousands of teachers and students.

Pengpeng has a B.A. in Law, M.A. in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language, and M.A. in Instructional Design Technology. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher and district recipient of the Vision of Excellence Teacher Award. Throughout her career as an educator she has been dedicated to creating a climate hospitable to education that cultivates kindness and caring, values and appreciates every child and family, and sees the unique potential of every student and educator to make a positive difference in the world.