About Mr. Ku

"Passionate" is how I am described by many students. I try to bring my energy into the classroom everyday, so you'll be engaged from the moment class begins to the very last minute.

I am an alumnus at South Pasadena High School (class of 1996), and had a great experience growing up in this city. It's cool having the opportunity now to teach alongside many of the same teachers that I had when I went through high school. In my senior year in high school, I won a few awards of which I'm very proud:

  • I was voted my senior class's "Biggest Teacher's Pet." Okay, maybe I'm not exactly proud of this one ...

  • I had four years of perfect attendance, and won some money for that.

  • I was selected as one of the Weldon Award winners. I feel very honored to be recognized by my peers and teachers.

I went to UCLA (go Bruins!), where I studied biochemistry -- not because I had future ambitions in the medical field or wanted to pursue scientific research, but simply because it was fun. I also minored in accounting. Again, for fun.

After UCLA, I spent a bunch of years tutoring students in math and science, and doing test preparation. It was during this time that I grew to love teaching. It was exciting seeing students wrestle with something challenging, achieve that "aha!" moment, and mastered something that originally seemed impossible. I also discovered that I really enjoyed investing in teenagers in discovering and reaching their potential. I believe that this investment has great possibilities to significantly and positively impact the world.

I wanted to do something different, so I applied to business schools. I didn't get accepted to any, but I did land a sweet job with a test preparation company to prepare people to take the GMAT (the "SAT" to get into business schools), since I scored pretty high.

Not getting into business school, I changed course and went the teaching route. I spent two years at UC Irvine getting my Masters degrees in Chemistry and in Teaching. I also spent a year student teaching at El Toro High School (home of the Chargers!). Usually, when you go through student teaching, you only get to teach maybe two periods of classes; I don't know what they were thinking when the school offered me to replace a current teacher and teach full time (five periods of chemistry!) for the last quarter of the school year. I fell in love connecting with the students and teaching.

Between running from classroom to classroom and adjusting to a blocked schedule, I managed to survive my first couple years of teaching at SPHS. I enjoyed trying different things in the classroom and getting to know many of my students well. I also had a great time attending athletic events and performances, seeing my students shine in other contexts.

I don't think I did anything outstanding, but I felt very privileged to earn the appreciation of my students and to be selected for the "Rookie Teacher of the Year" award my first year of teaching. (2012-2013). I think the award reflects the responsiveness by my students to my efforts to challenge them. I have also been honored with a PTSA Honorary Service Award (2014-2015) and selected by colleagues as SPHS's Teacher of the Year (2016-2017). In December 2017, I became a National Board Certified Teacher in Science-Chemistry for Adolescent and Young Adulthood. In 2022, I was honored by being selected for the "Harold Hartsough Award." It's a huge honor to be recognized for my passion to connect with and invest in my students.

Outside the classroom, I volunteer with local and international projects at my church, and I enjoy watching musicals, practicing magic tricks, tennis, hiking, swimming, white-water rafting, and watching college athletic events.