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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye June 2024 Issue
1st Amend Award School

Tong era comes to an end

Science+teacher+Jonathon+Tong+strikes+a+heart+hand+pose+as+a+final+farewell+to+the+students+and+faculty+he+has+worked+beside+for+the+past+23+years.
©HAWKEYE image credit: Adrian Knowlton
Science teacher Jonathon Tong strikes a heart hand pose as a final farewell to the students and faculty he has worked beside for the past 23 years.

Jonathan Tong is an activist, science teacher, a Buddhist, and a friend beloved by all. When deciding on retiring now, Tong said, “I’ve been teaching for about 36 years, and I’m 62 years old, and I’m at a point where I can see the end of my life in the foreseeable future, and I would like to spend the last years of my life being able to enjoy doing things.”
Though it’s sad to see him go, he tried to stitch together his journey and some of his messages he’d like to leave with Terrace students.
As a kid, Tong didn’t really know what to do, or why he was here.
He said, “I didn’t even like life in particular,” and that he thought that “the world was a weird sick place,” where he “couldn’t imagine how people could be so cruel to each other” but later went on to say “I had a great time in high school, every weekend was just a delightful time hanging out with friends.”
Eventually, he gravitated toward people who had that same mindset and were “weird together.”

Science teacher Jonathon Tong busts a move during the staff dance at the Homecoming assembly during the 2023-2024 school year. (©HAWKEYE image credit: Seras Bryner)

By the time he got to college, he was already on a pre-med track. This was due to his dad being a medical school professor; he wanted the same for his kids.
But when Tong was half way through college, he realized he wasn’t that interested in how the human body works.
What he was interested in, however, was how people think, and the big questions of life, so he chose to be a philosophy major.
Through that process, he finally learned in his fifth year of college that he really liked teaching. Not only that, but his father was a professor, his mom was a public school teacher, and his uncle was a public school teacher, so he had a history with teachers.
For his first five years in the field, he said, “It was rough. I was a terrible teacher for the first five years, at least.” Tong said this was because he is a very introverted person, and said the reason he seems so extroverted is that he can turn on his extroverted voice when he needs to, like teaching.
At the time he started, it just didn’t come natural to him, as well as the fact that he hadn’t gotten used to being an authority figure – and being smaller than the students probably wasn’t helping.
Another thing was that the mentors who were teaching him how to teach were both very good but had very different teaching methods.
One had a very lecture-based type of teaching, and the other had activities almost every time. “I didn’t know what to do; I just knew I can’t do it that way, and I can’t do it that way, and I have no idea how to do it myself, so I just floundered.” Tong said.
“And my student teaching was god awful, I swore I would never step foot in a classroom again.”
Over the years, Tong’s teaching style has changed. He has learned a lot of things and taught plenty of people, and through that learned things himself. One of which is that kids aren’t that different from adults, and adults aren’t really that different from kids. He taught everyone to be equal.

I didn’t know what to do; I just knew I can’t do it that way, and I can’t do it that way, and I have no idea how to do it myself, so I just floundered.”

— Jonathon Tong


Another thing Tong learned to teach differently is food! In Tong’s Zoology class he would occasionally make food for them, he said this was because he watched Anthony Bourdain videos (Bourdain is an American chef and author). He said that it opened his eyes to how rewarding it is to learn about other people from other cultures, and learn how much food can bring people together, and that when someone makes food for you, they are really showing you who they are.
As said before, Tong has worked for about 36 years as a teacher, and he’s been at Mountlake Terrace for 23 of those years.
Tong thought that the most important thing to learn at this point in our lives was “to find out who you are on the deepest level.”
He added that when he was in high school, he didn’t know who he was or why he was here. He believed that each person came here to learn some important lessons that are really different for each person.
He also added that students and staff need to learn how to care about others. He said this is very important, and learning to love people you hate just as much as you love yourself, because the world is full of people who care about other people and others who don’t.
Tong went through a journey to get here and through that journey he found a lot of lessons about others and about himself.
Tong was a teacher who, on the basic level, taught kids biology and zoology, but he was also a teacher who inspired people to open their eyes and think more about others, to love others.
Tong has loved teaching kids, and he worked hard to get to where he was at and then retired.
Tong is a good teacher, and when he is gone, he’ll be missed at Terrace.

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About the Contributors
Adam Bronson
Adam Bronson, Hawkeye Staff
Adam Bronson joined HSM in 2023. He always enjoyed with writing, and when he learned about photography he found another interest area. He is social and tries his hardest to connect with peers. In his free time he draws, plays video games and does his homework. His post-high school plans are to get into university and study psychology.
Adrian Knowlton
Adrian Knowlton, Photo Editor
Adrian Knowlton initially joined HSM in 2022 to pursue his love for photography and writing. He first started Journalism in 7th grade at BTMS and was a writer for the Bulldog Brief. From there he went from writer to part time writer and photographer to being apart of Community and Belonging with some of his fellow peers. As of now, he is currently a writer and photographer for HSM and does a little bit of graphics on the side. In his free time Adrian likes to draw and write.
Seras Bryner
Seras Bryner, Hawkeye Co-Editor-in-Chief
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