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The Power of Learning

Haytch Bialer and Jungyoon Choi will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for the Learning Design, Innovation, and Technology Program
Haytch Bialer and Jungyoon Choi
Haytch Bialer (left) and Jungyoon Choi

The Intellectual Contribution Award recognizes graduating Ed.M. students (one from each master’s degree program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced HGSE’s academic community and positively affected fellow students. All recipients were nominated by their classmates based on who inspired them, helped them gain a different perspective on education's challenges, and contributed to shared learning and intellectual growth, both inside and outside of the classroom. Each program's faculty directors, in consultation with other faculty and staff, selected the final honorees for their program based on the nominations and on demonstrated academic success.

Haytch Bialer and Jungyoon Choi will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for the Learning Design, Innovation, and Technology (LDIT) Program during HGSE Convocation exercises on May 22. Below, our faculty members comment on the selections, and we asked the winners about their time at HGSE, their future goals, and their approach to impacting the field of education.

Haytch Bialer, Ed.M.'24

"Haytch is incredibly open to imaginative possibility and is endlessly curious, always excited to share their own discoveries and to support others' wonderful ideas. All of this is made possible through Haytch's profound understanding that we learn with our whole selves: we cannot separate our thinking from our feeling, and we must care for that interdependence of cognition and emotion in ourselves and in others to ensure our mutual flourishing. Haytch has exercised this care in a myriad of ways this year, within and beyond classes, which is reflected in the student nominations. Students described Haytch as 'the heart of the LDIT Program' and 'one of the most welcoming people I have met,' recognizing how Haytch 'consistently made sure everyone around them is healthy, safe, and secure,' and how they 'helped so many of their peers succeed by making the choice to slow down and nurture.' One student beautifully expressed my own feelings about Haytch: 'I feel like I am a better person and a better educator having known them.'” — LDIT Faculty Co-Chair Karen Brennan

An illustration of Haytch by one of their former students
An illustration of Haytch Bialer by one of their former students

What brought you to HGSE, and what was your goal in coming here? I came to HGSE to fall back in love with the hard work of education. After taking a break from teaching due to burn-out, I realized that I couldn’t be happy doing any other work. Graduate school offered me an opportunity to re-examine my role as an educator, but HGSE gave me so much more. I chose HGSE because of the people — peers, teaching teams, and staff who care deeply about supporting learners, cultivating expansive pedagogical practices, and working towards a more just world.

What surprised you about your time at HGSE? It sounds simple, but my biggest surprise at HGSE was feeling at home in the MakerSpace! It’s so empowering to accomplish things my younger self only dreamed of doing. I’ve used laser cutters, programmed microchips, soldered circuitry, and collaborated with so many creative and determined people.  

How did your HGSE experience shape your work or your goals? I’ve always envisioned myself as an inventor — someone who messes around with doodads and gizmos — but never thought that could be a career. Now I know that’s possible! LDIT taught me the language and technical skills to incorporate constructionist principles into my future work, and IPJE taught me how to orient these skills toward justice efforts.

Is there any professor or class that significantly shaped your experience? There are so many professors and classes that transformed my time at HGSE. Karen Brennan, Rilda Kissel, Paulina Haduong, and Nina Bhattacharya were my first cheerleaders; Dock [David Dockterman], Gretchen Brion-Meisels, and Dr. [Aaliyah] El-Amin taught me how to love myself and my abilities; and Dr. V [Christina Villarreal] gifted me the language to describe and interrogate the tensions that brought me to HGSE in the first place. I am indebted to these wonderful people and so many others.

Jungyoon Choi, Ed.M.'24

"There was overwhelming student support for our two winners: Haytch Bialer and Jungyoon Choi. Both have engaged heartily in our classes and in the co-curricular life of LDIT, always sharing thoughtful ideas, welcoming others’ comments, contributing to the energy of our special events, and greeting classmates with ready smiles and authentic warmth. As usual, the students are more eloquent than I could be … so listen to some of their comments in nominating Jungyoon for one of this year’s Intellectual Contribution awards: 'Jungyoon ... holds us together as one community. She is always supportive – in all possible senses, as a friend, neighbor, peer, and coworker.' 'Jungyoon is an amazingly ambitious and informed student and friend. She helped me support many fellow international students prior to campus arrival and followed up with them over our time in the program. Her support continued over the semester, alongside her friendliness and always open ear to help her fellow students.' Intellectual curiosity, seriousness of purpose, openness to classmates’ ideas, genuine care for their friendship and their well-being … these are qualities we highly value in LDIT." — LDIT Faculty Co-Chair Joe Blatt 

Jungyoon Choi
Jungyoon Choi presenting a final project

What is something that you learned this year that you will take with you throughout your career in education?  The greatest lesson I learned at HGSE is the value of learning from everyone around me — not just professors but also peers and my students. This experience has broadened my understanding across various educational domains and reinforced my enthusiasm for lifelong learning in both formal and informal settings. Moving forward, I am excited to apply this inclusive approach to learning and teaching, ensuring I remain open to diverse perspectives and new ideas throughout my career.  

What surprised you about your time at HGSE? I was pleasantly surprised by the strong sense of community and support at HGSE. My peers not only appreciated and praised even the smallest of my achievements, but they were also a constant source of support whenever I needed help. The friendships I formed here greatly enriched my experience, showing me the importance of a supportive educational community. Indeed, the friendships I have made here have become the most cherished part of my HGSE journey.  

Is there any professor or class that significantly shaped your experience? Several professors significantly shaped my HGSE experience: Joe Blatt guided me through hosting various events for my student organization HGSE Educators for Young Learners; Karen Brenan supported and advised the pilot of Edstation; Pamela Mason, Catherine Snow, and Meredith Rowe deepened my passion for literacy; Seiji Isotani assisted in developing an AI tutor and provided the opportunity to present it to the HGSE community; and Nicole Mills demonstrated how to effectively blend learning science with technology in language education. Each of these educators has left a lasting impact on my academic and professional development.  

What are your post-HGSE plans? Where are you hoping to make the most impact? While I am still exploring the exact path my career will take post-HGSE, I am keen on continuing to learn and expand my expertise in learning design and ESL teaching. I am particularly interested in applying my knowledge to develop educational tools that enhance language learning and literacy. My aim is to make a significant impact in creating inclusive, technology-enhanced educational environments that cater to diverse learning needs and promote sustained educational engagement. 


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