Impact All Around: Sanlida Cheng

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Impact All Around: Sanlida Cheng

By Divitya Vakil, News Editor

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Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of features about administrators, highlighting various adults at Niles West.

Two of the graduation requirements of Niles West is receiving eight English credits and six Social Studies credits, which can be fulfilled in a variety of ways, depending on the student. Therefore, it is certain that Sanlida Cheng, Director of Humanities has impacted every single student.

In 2002, Sanlida Cheng was a newly graduated college student beginning her career as an English teacher at West. However, when an administrative position opened up, she did not hesitate to apply.

“I taught straight out of college. I actually got my degree to become an administrator thinking that it was something that maybe I wanted to do ten or fifteen years down the road, but then at the end of my fourth year, the director of English job opened up,” Cheng said. “I thought ‘okay I really like what I’m doing but if I wanted to make an even bigger impact on teaching and learning in the school, then I had to get myself into a role to do that.'”

After they combined the English and Social studies departments together, Cheng was delighted for the opportunity to a have a role that oversaw both curriculums, furthering her impact.

“In this role, I’ve been able to be a part of revising curriculum that has an impact on hundreds of thousands of students over years,” Cheng said. “In the humanities department, there are about 56 teachers. When I work with these teachers and help them with whatever it is they need help with, then I can have an indirect impact on that many more students.”

Junior Anna Darville enjoys English class greatly and personally feels the impact of changes to the curriculum.

“I feel like we read a variety of material that everyone can connect to. It helps give a different perspective,” Darville said. “I think that teachers try to bring readings that will appeal to students rather than just focusing on what has been done in the past.”

Like many members of the diverse school community, Cheng is an immigrant.

“I was born in a refugee camp because my parents were escaping the war in Cambodia. My mom said that they needed to leave because she was pregnant with me [Cheng]. They heard that if they crossed the border into Thailand, there would be food,” Cheng said. “Just one decision led all these other decisions and that’s how I got to be here.”

Assistant Director of Humanities Michael Kucera enjoys working with such an amiable person.

“I would describe our relationship as a collaborative one. I think as a boss goes she’s been a good listener and I trust her because I’ve learned a lot from her first of all and secondly, she’s got a great way with people,” Kucera said. “In terms of leadership, I watch her a lot. I do think she brings a lot to the table and puts a lot of care into the way she treats people not just in her department but all over the school.”