Vietnam Refugee Becomes Principal

Jonathan Trinh is a unique man.  As a child growing up in Vietnam he and his family went through many hardships.   At the young age of seven Mr. Trinh and his family suffered greatly as they made their escape from Vietnam.  The family fled on a raft constructed by his father, surviving on only dry rice and water.  Mr. Trinh describes the journey as a very difficult time in his life. “I had blisters from the sun, I cannot describe the pain.”  From Vietnam, they traveled to Hong Kong, where they were rescued by the Chinese Navy.  After four years in Hong Kong, Trinh along with his parents and five siblings, finally made it to Houston.

When his family arrived to the United States, they lived in government housing projects in the Fourth Ward.  Along with his siblings and parents, he used to stand in lines at local churches and food banks in order to survive.  Trinh feels that he is very relatable to his students, and can empathize with their struggles.

Another obstacle that Trinh faced was not knowing English. It took him approximately three years to learn enough English to be successful in the classroom.  Trinh is also a product of Houston ISD. He attended Gregory Lincoln Educational Center where he was an English as a Second Language (ESL) Student.  He gives credit to his teachers and the ESL program here at HISD for aiding him in becoming successful.  He then went off to college, earning a full paid scholarship to Texas Southern University. “I want our immigrant kids to see that anyone can achieve their dreams.”

Mr. Trinh Lee HS photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

Trinh graduated with a degree in Biology and minors in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics.  He continued on to earn a Master’s Degree in Education.  Prior to pursuing his education, he served in the Marine Corp for four years.  It was when he met his wife that he decided to become an educator.  His teaching career first began at Kashmere High School where he taught science.  He then spent 15 years in Fort Bend ISD and taught a variety of classes from remedial science to Advanced Placement Science courses.  He returned to HISD to help open the new Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy where he served as Associate Principal/Dean of Instruction for the past three years.

This year he was hired as the Principal of Lee High School.  His strong background in education and the military have given him the structure to be a hands-on administrator. He is the type of individual to find solutions to issues that our students face.  Because of his past, his education, and his love for education, Mr. Trinh is a dedicated leader in Houston ISD.

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