Ms. Hoque Honored By ILA’s 30 Under 30
By ASHLEY ZHENG and DENISE MARTINEZ
English teacher Farhana Hoque has been named one of the ILA’s 30 under 30 innovators, disruptors, and visionaries in the literacy field. Not only that, she also made the cover of the ILA magazine.
The International Literacy Association (ILA) is a global advocacy and membership organization of more than 300,000 literacy educators, researchers, and experts across 86 countries.
“This is my first teaching award,” Ms. Hoque said. “But my students have also won third place nationwide for the National Scholastic Press Association for producing an award winning yearbook in 2017.”
Ms. Hoque is humble about her win.
“It’s highly competitive to be selected as a literacy honoree,” she said. “I didn’t think I would be one of them, let alone be selected for the cover. I remember contacting them one day for a copy of the magazine and the woman said, ‘Sure! By the way, you’re also on the cover!’ It came as a complete shock!”
According to the ILA interview, Ms. Hoque is a first generation graduate from a family of Bangladeshi immigrants. She first learned to read and write in Bangla before learning English.
“When I learned English, it made my experience that much more enriching,” said Ms. Hoque. “I grew up bilingual, learning two different languages and two completely different alphabets. I always felt like an outsider. Then one day a teacher of mine told me how she wished she was bilingual like me because there are so many neurological and cognitive benefits to being a dual language speaker. Now I’m grateful for having multilingual skills.”
Ms. Hoque went to Macaulay College andColumbia University.
“I knew pretty early on that I wanted to educate and inspire,” she said. “I had some really amazing teachers and professors along the way; I admired them greatly and wanted to do what they did.”
Now, Ms. Hoque teaches Regents English classes, Art and Literature, and also handles the yearbook publications at Midwood High School. She advises the South Asian Club, Korean-Japanese-Chinese (KJC) Club, and TED Ed Club.
One of her former students, Claire McErlaine ’20, said, “I enjoyed Ms. Hoque’s class very much. She was a great teacher, and I learned a lot from her. We did unique activities that no other teacher would’ve done. I felt a special bond with her.”
Creating a diverse reading environment is important to Ms. Hoque.
“Students should be able to read and view texts and media bristling with diversity in all its facets,” Ms. Hoque said. “Culturally conscious texts show students their values, ideals, and traditions are welcomed here.”
Ms. Hoque has mentored two teachers currently teaching at Midwood: Ms. Melissa Pentangelo and Ms. Keisha Darius.
Ms. Darius, an AP Language teacher, said, “Ms. Hoque has been my mentor for one and a half years. She has been very helpful, and she is creative.”
“One time she went to a workshop, got a set of books, and got the author to come into her class,” said Ms. Darius. “The author was able to answer direct questions from students.”
Like many of us, Ms. Hoque likes to binge watch shows during her free time. Some of her favorites are “Black Mirror,” “True Detective,” and “Dexter.” She also enjoys watching stand up comedians “who can shed light on issues through satire.”
But her number one hobby might be reading. One of her goals is to read ten books each summer. Last year, she read 20.
Ms. Hoque has three pieces of advice for future educators. The first one is to “be kind to one another.”
“If you can’t be kind towards yourself and others, you will have a turbulent time in education,” she said. “It requires so much patience and a sheer ability to effectively communicate.”
Her second piece of advice is to “shadow a teacher or professor you admire.”
“Ask them if you can see what it’s like to walk around a day in their shoes,” she said. “If it’s something you gravitate towards, you now have a mentor to help you.”
Her final piece of advice is to just to “be yourself.”
“As cliché as that sounds, I’ve found that the most meaningful relationships I’ve made with my students have been when I was able to share my authentic experiences with them,” she said.
Shyanne Hinds contributed to this article.