Mr. Ngay Tang (he/him) (pronounced “like Bill Nye the Science Guy,” he says) is, starting this year, our new assistant principal. He’s only been with ERHS since the beginning of the school year, but he already seems perfectly at home on the ERHS campus. From first impressions alone, Mr. Tang is a kind and gentle person who speaks deliberately and respectfully. He always makes an effort to fully understand whatever it is he’s working on or whoever he’s talking to. My conversation with him felt like a breath of fresh air from the otherwise busy and stressful school day.
Mr. Tang has been working in education for 20 years. “I started as an elementary school teacher,” he says. “I started at Gate Street in Lincoln Heights, and from there I went to … Hollemback Middle School … as a middle school science and math teacher, as well as robotics[.] From there I went to Arroyo Seco, and my most recent role was instructional expert at Local District Central, and then here I am.” A busy career indeed, but it’s clear that he’s had ambition all his life.
“My parents are immigrants,” he says, “and I’m just fortunate that I’m able to have the opportunities that they didn’t have.” This dedication also led Mr. Tang to UCLA three times, for his varying degrees– microbiology, teaching, and admin.
While a shy child, he was a very active high schooler who spent all of his time studying and playing tennis. On the topic of tennis and team sports, Mr. Tang says that he mainly looks forward to “...the practices. So when I see athletes out here, or band or drill, or stage, practicing, it gets me excited for the actual show. Because it shows that you’re invested in the process. So when the process is high quality, you’re gonna have a high quality product.”
Now, Mr. Tang spends more time on his bike than on the courts. His love for biking started in the middle of the pandemic. Mr. Tang says: “[Cycling] was sort of my way to stay sane. It was my form of meditation and self care. Biking is great because I get to keep myself in good shape, but also I get to give myself some time alone to think and to process and just to reflect.”
Apart from cycling, Mr. Tang’s passions lie in education and public service. “What do I like about working with kids?” he repeats when asked. “I want to ask them that question! What do kids like about working with adults? That’s the more important question. … I believe feedback is the key to improvement. So I get feedback from the staff and the students. It’s important to get the student perspective, not just for drills but also when it comes to instruction, programs, activities– it’s important to get everybody’s voices heard.”
Mr. Tang’s teaching philosophy is just as considerate as he is himself. “If you give someone a fish, they eat for a day,” he says. “If you teach a man to fish, they eat for a lifetime. … Eagle Rock is a small pond. Out there, it’s the ocean. … we want to encourage you to continue to pursue your dreams and aspirations outside the Rock, with what you’ve learned here. … we empower you to make those choices. Everyone is here to empower you.”