MIKE H. VANG is authored of Dear My Teacher: Letters of Joy, Pain & Triumph from Today’s Teenage Hmong Students" published in 2019 with the Hmong Educational Resources Publisher.

This book is a collaboration between the Hmong for Native Speakers classes at Park Center Senior High and Osseo Senior High, located in the Osseo Area School District. The students’ letters in this book were written to us, their teachers, with the hope that by sharing their feelings on paper, we may benefit from seeing the world through their eyes. These letters are anonymous to ensure they are written authentically and straight from the heart. Some proper nouns were changed to protect the identity of the students.

Osseo Area Schools is in the Northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities serving all or parts of Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Corcoran, Dayton, Maple Grove, Osseo, Plymouth, and Rogers. It is the fifth largest school district with the second largest Hmong population, second to Saint Paul Public Schools. With over 20,000 students and 80 dialects spoken by students, the diverse background of students enriches experiences in the classroom. We currently offer Spanish and Hmong for Native Speakers classes to our students at both Osseo Senior High and Park Center Senior High. Please visit www.district279.org to find out more about our schools and district.

Osseo Senior High is located at the junction of three major cities coming together, in the northwest corner of the Twin Cities Metro area: Maple Grove, Brooklyn Park and Osseo. Like its physical location, Osseo Senior High (OSH) is home to the Osseo Orioles, a junction point where students, staff and families from diverse backgrounds and walks of life, come together and commit to working collectively toward a common mission that “inspires and prepares all students with the confidence, courage, and competence to achieve their dreams, contribute to community; and engage in a lifetime of learning,” (Osseo Area Schools-District 279).

Furthermore, OSH embodies the vibrant features of its mascot’s namesake, the Oriole. From the leadership of Principal, Michael Lehan, to the exuberant demeanor of the newest staff members, OHS has a deep commitment towards the celebration of its colorful learning community and puts great emphasis on cultural competency in its delivery of academic modalities. Indicative to such commitment is OSH’s successful launch of the Native Hmong class. In its first year, Native Hmong touts an at-capacity enrollment number of 35 students, despite being offered as an elective course in the Word Language Department.

As of today, the OSH Hmong for Native Speakers class mirrors the success of its big sister, the Hmong for Native Speakers classes at Park Center Senior High (PCSH) in Brooklyn Park, and it’s showing early signs of high demands for future expansion in the number of course sections offered to students, for the subsequent years to come.

Park Center Senior High is a first ring suburban high school located northwest of Minneapolis led by Principal Heather Miller-Cink. We’re a diverse group of students and staff, including Hmong, Liberian, Hispanic, Vietnamese, and many more. One goal of our comprehensive high school is to provide a culturally responsive and differentiated curriculum of strong rigor in a caring environment with the expectation that all students will succeed. Park Center Senior High has over 400 Hmong students in attendance, over 20% of the student population.

This is our second year offering the Hmong for Native Speakers courses at Park Center. There are now six full classes offered for students. Next year, students will be able to take Hmong for Native Speakers at level I, II, or III. We have worked hard to create this rigorous course and are very proud of the culturally relevant experiences that it offers.

This special book is made possible by the Education Minnesota Foundation Classroom Grant: The Untold Story. The format of this book is organized into three sections: Self-Discovery, Health, and Family. Although many letters do overlap in themes, we selected one section to put each letter in. We hope you enjoy the letters straight from the minds, hearts, and souls of Hmong high school students. We would like to thank our Instructional Coach, Angie Vivatson, and retired teaching colleague, Katherine Hutchinson, for your countless hours editing this book to make it publishable. Last but not least, Mr. Sing Ly, for your continued support to heal the hearts of students who believe in you.