Claire Runs Philadelphia Half Marathon
May 7, 2018 | KL Community

Education & Learning Through Claire’s Eyes

Education & Learning Through Claire’s Eyes

It’s no secret that Yajuan (Claire) Hou is on a mission to reach as many students as possible with educational opportunity. In her role as KL’s Director of Online Learning, she devotes her day to innovative online course design, development, and promotion. But when asked what she hopes to achieve by developing new online courses and curriculum, she speaks from the heart, revealing experiences that truly led her to this field.

When Claire was a senior in college, she was collecting data for a research project and had the opportunity to work with an autistic child. She and her colleagues discovered quickly that the boy had a photographic memory, and that he could showcase that talent through vivid drawings. When they gave him a map of China, he was able to recreate the map without missing one detail. Not long after that, they discovered his second talent — painting. During an art exhibition of paintings by autistic children, Claire was surprised to find that each child was more than willing to show and discuss their painting with others. “Every student has their own potential,” says Claire. “One of the biggest responsibilities of a teacher is to help children discover their potential, and guide them towards using that potential to fulfill their dreams.” A few years ago, only students in international schools could study foreign curriculum. However, the development of the internet and technology has dramatically increased access to all different forms of studying. With KL Online, Claire intends to spread innovative educational ideas far and wide to help as many students as possible discover their potential.

Online Director painting with KL staff members

Claire (second from L) enjoying an evening out painting with friends (and KL staff!) Caleb, Jane, and Victoria

Claire shared another experience that shaped her interest in curriculum development. She was working as a Research Assistant at Boston College, helping design curriculum for students with disabilities. The lab had a computer that could recognize eye expressions and translate them into thoughts and ideas. By following the movement of the user’s eyeball, the computer’s mouse could help the user make appropriate choices. Claire and her team developed curriculum to serve as a guide for each user, and they tested it on a child with a severe disability who could move nothing on his body but his eyes. One of the tasks in the program was to choose an image of cookies on the left side of the screen instead of an image of fruit on the right side of the screen. When the mouse moved to the left and clicked on the cookies, there were happy faces on both sides of the table, especially when Claire and her team gave the child real cookies as a reward! “All students have abilities, some of which have not yet been discovered,” says Claire. “Many times, abilities go unused because a person doesn’t see a way to use them. Technology is a great tool for helping people tap into those unexplored abilities.”

Claire’s ideas come from many places. While indoors, she expresses her creativity through her online design work. But she is also an outdoor enthusiast who loves running, travel, and mountain climbing – something that gives her a strong sense of achievement. “I have climbed many mountains and seen many beautiful views, and I am always surprised by the new things there are to discover,” she says. “Like an animal I’ve never seen before, a stream that formed in some far away unknown place, or a mysterious mark left by other climbers. It satisfies my adventurous spirit! You never know what will appear in front of you next.”

Hiking with friends

Claire (in pink) hiking with friends

When not climbing mountains, you can often find Claire in a movie theater or an opera house with her friends seeing a show. One of her favorite performances is the ballet The Nutcracker, with its brisk melodies, complex choreography, and variable stage design. It always leaves a deep impression on her.

Claire (center) with friends at a performance of the ballet The Nutcracker

According to Claire, her world is full of adventures and surprises, all of them in harmony. And if she has her way, online curriculum will be a way to open the world to others, many of whom wouldn’t see it any other way.

 Learn more about the transformative experiences we offer students at our KL Schools and in our KL Online programs.