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Centaur Staff Recognition – Jeffrey Chhay, Earle Brown Elementary STEAM

Jeffrey Chhay working with a student October 31, 2018 – When Jeffrey Chhay considered where he wanted to begin his educational career, he knew it was important to see himself in the students he would work with. Chhay was raised by a single parent and had behavioral problems in grade school because of his family’s economic struggles. Knowing a little about some of the Brooklyn Center community, Chhay knew he would fit in at Brooklyn Center Community Schools.

“I wanted to work here because I could give kids someone they can relate to, which helps with their academic success,” Chhay said. “I was diagnosed with an emotional and behavioral disorder (EBD) growing up, and a lot of people counted me out. My fifth grade special education teacher told me how good I would be at her job. Here I am 20 years later, hoping to spark that same inspiration in students just as my teacher did for me.”

Chhay student taught at Earle Brown Elementary STEAM (EBE) last school year and was hired as a special educational assistant this fall. Chhay said the BCCS core values resonate with him because he embodies the student culture. Each day, he works to provide unconditional love and care, no matter if students are having a good or tough day.

“I represent the hard times that come with the territory,” Chhay said. “With my constant display of resiliency, it helps students understand that hard times are only temporary.”

Colleagues have noticed Chhay’s passion for students, including special education assistant LeAnne Johnson, who nominated Chhay for Centaur Staff Recognition.

“Mr. Chhay talks with our students and gets to know them personally,” Johnson said. “He tries to understand their point of view and knows what each student needs to have a positive day.”

Johnson nominated Chhay for demonstrating the core value of honoring each person’s intrinsic value enhances our community. Johnson also said that Chhay is a very dependable colleague and supports his coworkers on a daily basis by being a team player.

“He's been through a lot in his life, but has proven the statistics wrong and earned a master's degree in special education,” she said.

The thing that motivates Chhay the most is our students and what they bring to the table.

“The students here are more valuable than they might think,” Chhay said. “School is probably the only place where they can be themselves, and I have the opportunity to see them at their best.”