Acera BlogStaff Spotlight

Staff Spotlight: Meet Tian Yao

By October 19, 2023No Comments

Tian Yao, Math Specialist Teacher


  • M.S., Curriculum & Instruction in STEM, Purdue University
  • B.A., Sociology, Huaqiao University


  • Activities: Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and going to the gym.
  • Book: One of my favorite books is River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler. This memoir chronicles Hessler’s time as a volunteer teacher in Fuling, China, during the late 1990s. The book captivates me with its depiction of cross-cultural interactions, personal development, and the nuanced interplay between tradition and modernization in a changing China. As a Chinese educator in the U.S., I find its insights resonate deeply, offering a unique perspective on my own journey. Hessler’s engaging account inspires me to examine my experiences from fresh angles.

If you could go anywhere for two weeks…

Any place that promises a captivating blend of distinctive culture, natural splendor, and rich history!

The driving force behind my decision to be an educator is rooted in my deep enjoyment of working with children, aiding their growth, and facilitating their learning journeys. It’s motivating and rewarding to see young minds flourish. 

As a teacher, Tian Yao thrives on change. The opportunity to engage with students from diverse backgrounds and varying learning styles every year is – as she explains – a constant source of inspiration.

“The ever-evolving nature of this experience keeps me impassioned about my career,” Tian said. “It fosters continuous learning and personal growth within my role as an educator, and fuels my desire to persistently learn and develop.”

Prior to joining Acera in 2020, Tian taught at a National Blue Ribbon elementary school in Louisiana for three years, where she taught math, science and social studies. A highlight of her experience was the invitation to present at the Magnet Schools of America Annual Conference on Interactive Group Activities: Enhancing Language Output Through Sociocultural Context.

“Sharing my insights on leveraging sociocultural context to enhance students’ engagement and output through interactive group activities was a deeply gratifying experience,” Tian said. “It affirmed my commitment to pushing educational boundaries and contributing meaningfully to the advancement of teaching practices within the larger educational community.”

At Acera, Tian leverages group projects as a tool for both education and engagement. Last year, a highlight for her students was the creation of a “Geometry City,” which wove together elements of math, social studies, mapping, writing, and problem solving.

“Guided by their acquired geometry skills, students crafted their own cities,” Tian explained. “Watching the students not only enjoy themselves but also thrive in this multifaceted endeavor was truly gratifying. It was a testament to the power of hands-on, cross-disciplinary learning.”

As an Acera Math Specialist, Tian embraces the school’s philosophy of nurturing and celebrating the innate curiosity within each student. 

“Acera’s culture allows students the freedom to explore and achieve guided by their own inquisitiveness. This harmonizes seamlessly with my own educational philosophy, and fosters an environment where learning flourishes and students feel secure to venture into uncharted territories without the fear of mistakes. This sense of safety encourages bold exploration, and truly sets Acera apart.”