Chinese Immersion School at De Avila

5th Grade Teachers


I am so excited to join the staff at CIS as the fifth grade English teacher! I've been a member of the CIS community from the beginning as the parent of three CIS students, and I look forward to the challenges of my new professional role.

I am a native Californian and spent most of my childhood in Lodi, a small city in the central valley. I was the oldest of four children and attended public schools until college. For college, I went back east to Williams College in Massachusetts. I spent a year teaching English in the Czech Republic and then returned home to become a teacher in Stockton. I have a masters degree in language and literacy from the School of Education at Harvard. I left teaching for several years to follow other career paths and spend time with my children, but eventually my love for education drew me back!

I've been a teacher for more than 11 years, and I spent the seven years before coming to CIS teaching English learners at Cesar Chavez in SFUSD. My passion is teaching children to read and helping them develop a love of reading. I hope every child will leave my class excited about books, whether they love fantasy stories, realistic fiction novels, biographies, or nonfiction books that support a special hobby.

I've lived in San Francisco with my husband for over a decade. I love reading, swimming, hiking, traveling to new places, and spending time with my four children. I feel lucky that my children were able to participate in the immersion program at CIS, and I look forward to working with you to support your child on this journey!

If you need to reach me, please email me at my district email address or call the school. I will get back to you by phone or email as soon as possible. If there is something I need to know urgently in the morning, it might be best to send a note with your child. When appropriate, also please encourage your child to communicate with me directly. It is important to build self-advocacy skills as they prepare for middle school.


Kaling Karen Chu - 5th Grade Teacher

It is an honor to introduce myself as the new fifth grade Chinese teacher of CIS. I have just returned to San Francisco after my sabbatical and adventure around the world. I feel refreshed and am ready to work collaboratively with the energetic CIS community.

I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I hold a B.A. from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a M.Ed. from Boston College. Prior to teaching fourth and fifth grades in the Chinese Immersion program at West Portal for 14 years, I was a secondary school teacher in Hong Kong.

In the summer of 2007, I was grateful to receive the Magic Moments Fellowship from the 1990 Institute. It allowed me to join a cross-cultural exchange program that brings American teachers and students to China to teach English to Chinese teachers and students, while learning Chinese language and culture. I also learned from my mentor teacher how to organize educational trips for my school. For the following five consecutive summers, I taught at Qiaoqi Experimental Primary School in China. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to grow as a better facilitator. During the spring break of 2008 and 2010, I also brought my own students and parents to Hong Kong and China. Everyone had a blast!

I am a mother of a ten year old girl. We both enjoy reading, music and all kinds of creative hobbies and explorations. We also enjoy getting together with family and friends in our leisure time. Both my husband and daughter have inspired me to be a lifetime learner.

I look forward to being part of a successful team that helps students have a fruitful and fun-filled year.


Once a upon a time, in an enchanted 8th grade Algebra class, a shy thirteen year old teenager was given the chance to be the teacher’s aid. She fell in love with the job and wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. She took her first job at a daycare center in high school; her passion grew stronger and continued to work at many daycare centers through college. That shy thirteen year old was me! I always thought I was adopted because my dream of becoming a teacher was crushed by my “evil parents,” who would always say, “Teachers don’t earn anything; you need to be a doctor!”

Long story short, I was the defiant child, and pursued my teaching credential at SF State, after obtaining BSs in Neuroscience and East Asian Language in Mandarin at UC Berkeley. I have been a teacher for more than 14 years, 12 of the years I was a secondary teacher at Alice Fong Yu Alternative School.

When I am not grading Math or Chinese homework, I love to spend time with my three children: Breanna (9), Nena (2), and Aayden (1). They have taught me to be more patient, understanding, graceful, thankful and to enjoy life. At the end of the day, if I have any energy left, I enjoy making cards, scrapbooking, and playing Hay Day! I look forward to be part of the CIS community. You can contact me via School Loop or leave me a message at school.