Mae Jan brings the beauty of Mandarin to Masters


Logan Schiciano

After searching for a school to fulfill her creativity as a teacher, she found Masters to be a ‘perfect’ fit.

Sabrina Wolfson, Contributing Writer


After teaching at various institutions, Mae Jan feels overjoyed to be in an environment where she truly belongs. Newly arrived this September, Jan turned her passion for teaching her native language, Mandarin, into a reality. 

Growing up in Shān Dōng, China, Jan has always had a love for language. She came to the United States at the age of 18 to attend Rutgers University of New Brunswick in New Jersey. However, instead of pursuing language, she decided to explore different topics and ended up graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Science and Economics. “I really loved the analysis aspect of economics and the knowledge that I now have in business and math,” Jan said. 

I was drawn to her from the beginning. I particulary loved her teaching style, and looked forward to seeing it through her classes.

— Richard Simon, Modern and Classical Languages Dept. Chair

After college, she went on to be a Financial and Project Analyst for four years, but realized that she was somewhat unfulfilled. “I felt as though something was missing from my life, and it didn’t take me very long to realize that I had a desire to teach,” revealed Jan. Following that discovery, she decided to get a degree in teaching Mandarin at William Paterson College in New Jersey. 

Immediately following her graduation, she taught Chinese at Ranney School in South Jersey. She said it helped her explore her love for showing students the beauty of the Chinese language, as well as learning the patience that teaching requires. 

In an effort to be closer to her family, she moved to North Jersey and taught Chinese at a public school, which she found to be a poor fit. She said, “I was always inside of a classroom lecturing, unable to give any individual attention to the children. It felt like there was always a wall in between me and my students.”

From the moment she stepped onto the Masters campus, Jan was excited about the prospect of teaching in a Harkness environment. Richard Simon, Head of the Modern and Classical Language department said, “I was drawn to her from the beginning. I particularly loved her teaching style, and looked forward to seeing it throughout her classes.” 

Coming from a larger public school environment, she said she appreciates the Harkness method and the relationships that she has begun to form with the students in her classes. Sophomore Stella Zinaman, one of her current students, said that her class brings them immense joy. Zinaman said, “She does a nice job of balancing reading from the textbook and conversational learning so that we are never bored in class. I really can’t wait to see what she does next.”

In addition to spending time with her students, Jan notes how she takes time every day to enjoy the beautiful nature at Masters. “Masters truly has a gorgeous campus that is very calming,” Jan observed. She said she looks forward to the springtime and seeing the flowers bloom.