Photo of a classroom, showing desks in the foreground and from behind, the backs of three teen students heads. The students are facing a dark-haired adult female teacher in a skirt and long-sleeve black turtleneck with a scarf around her neck and standing a podium looking down at a textbook. On the wall to the teachers left is a dry erase board and in from of that is a e-whiteboard with a video showing a Korean teen singing and holding a microphone. Text and image overlay on the bottom left corner of the graphic shows the outlined figure of a student wearing a graduation cap and the text “Learning and Achievement for All, Futuro Prosperos/Thriving Futures”

The Korean Embassy’s Korean Education Center awarded C.D. Hylton High School $3,000 to support the school’s Korean language education program. This is the eighth year the school has received the competitive grant award that provides resources to U.S. schools. Thanks to the ongoing commitment of Kay Choi, French and Korean teacher at Hylton High, the materials support students in becoming critical thinkers and global citizens who learn to understand and value different viewpoints and work in collaboration with others. Hylton High School houses the division's Center for International Students and Languages (CISL) Specialty Program.

There are 60 students studying Korean for the 2023-24 school year. Choi currently teaches Korean 1-4, advanced French, and AP French at Hylton. She also sponsors a Korean Culture Club at the school. Choi has developed a strong bond with the Korean Embassy staff who make nearly annual visits to the school. At the Embassy’s invitation, Choi and a group of her students recently took a field trip to visit the Embassy and experience its Cultural Center.

“I can understand Korean, but I’m still struggling to speak,” shared Dominik Graham, a senior at Hylton and in his third year studying Korean, who said he has always been interested in languages and started teaching himself Korean when he was much younger. One of his goals is to learn three languages and he hopes to live in Korea after he graduates high school. “The [Embassy] director gave me some good advice about moving to Korea.”

“I love learning about the history and culture of Korea in Ms. Choi’s class,” shared student Isabelle Vierkant, also a senior whose plans for college include a social work major with a minor in Korean. She shares that her grandmother came from Seoul, Korea, and they have a special trip planned to visit Seoul together after Isabelle’s graduation.

Choi has nominated her students for study abroad scholarships, including through such international opportunities as the U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program, which aims to promote critical language learning among American youth. She has promoted students for the Global Korea Scholarship Invitation Program to visit Korea and even had students go on to attend Yonsei University.

“I try to understand my students’ lives, their challenges. My goal is to inspire and empower my students with lifelong skills,” said Choi.

The Hylton CISL program offers a full range of advanced and Advanced Placement (AP) courses in all subjects with a focus on history, political science, and world language courses. Other languages currently offered in this specialty program include: Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, and Spanish for Fluent Speakers.