Since escaping a war-torn Vietnam as a refugee, Huong (Jade) Huynh Balden has built her life around helping others. On her path of service, Balden studied education at BYU and graduated from the McKay School of Education in 2004 with a two-year-old and another baby on the way.
Shortly after graduation, Balden and her family moved to Australia to be closer to their extended family. It was there that she began her post-graduation journey in the field of education as a third-grade teacher.
“I love working with children in all areas. I love their innocence and teachability. I love teaching literacy, art, math, drama, etc. I just love loving the children, especially making them feel special,” Balden says.
In 2009 she found herself returning to the United States for her husband to attend both graduate and law school. Despite the relocation of her family, Jade returned to Australia each summer to work in elementary schools, where she was able to teach special education classes for children with autism and other special needs.
Australia holds a special place in Balden’s heart for many reasons—one being the major changes in education she witnessed while she was there. One major change is Australia’s nation-wide movement to track the academic progress of all children. Australia utilizes a numeracy and literacy database in all schools to ensure all students are making the same progress. That way, if a student changes schools, he or she will already be in the new school’s system and the teacher will be able to see where that student left off in learning the material. It is a system that is more need-based, and affects school communities.
In 2014 Balden and her family moved back to Australia full time. She decided to put teaching aside and pursue her dream of financially being able to “help build schools in third-world countries.” doTERRA, an essential oils business that has a humanitarian program, funds the construction efforts and Balden is a part of that effort.
After traveling all over Australia, the United States, and New Zealand with doTERRA, her family moved to Florida where she was able to publish her book Pink Jade. In her book, Balden tells of her experience escaping Vietnam as a refugee. Besides just telling Balden’s story, Pink Jade also “meets the needs of the third through sixth-grade school curriculum in Australia in social studies and history.” Balden hopes that one day her book will be incorporated into the syllabi of various Australian elementary schools.
To anyone considering a career in the field of education, Jade gives this piece of advice: “If you have a vision to change and touch lives of young children, this is the career for you. You have to have a passion for people, children, and education. Be prepared to always be learning and collaborating with others. This is a community-minded career. Teaching is an art that you will constantly refine. It is not something you master in one day. Children all over the world deserve a confident, happy, and healthy adult example in their lives every day when they arrive at school.”
For Balden, being a teacher is so much more than being an example in the classroom. It is an opportunity to make an impact in the community. Balden has already done so much, but still exclaims, “There is so much I want to do!”
Writer: Hannah Antillon
Contact: Shauna Valentine (801) 422-8562