The Mighty Ms. Ma Comes to KO


KO is lucky and excited to welcome Naogan Ma, the new Upper School Chinese teacher to the school!

Her journey to KO was long and winding, but Ms. Ma always knew she wanted to teach.  

“I thought teachers were the coolest people and always admired them,” she said. “I just thought it would be really nice to be a teacher, and since I became a teacher I haven’t had any doubts about my profession.”  

After studying in Mongolia, the opportunity presented itself to her to come and learn at Wesleyan University. So as a 28 year old married woman that’s exactly what she did! “My husband and I were away for a year and a half, and I had some very interesting experiences,” Ms. Ma said. Ultimately it was an amazing experience for her and she said she is glad she came.

“I always thought I would go back to China and teach English but I ended up teaching Chinese at Conn. College after I graduated,” Ms. Ma said. And the rest is history.

After building and developing a Chinese curriculum and program at Trinity College, Ms. Ma became a high school teacher at The Loomis Chaffee school and loved every moment of it.  

“I realized teaching Chinese through language and literature built bridges through the cultures,” Ms. Ma said. “I was happy to continue teaching Chinese to American students. It’s been a very satisfying journey so far.”

Ms. Ma explained how she ended up at KO. “I have a lot of friends who have very fond memories of KO, and the school itself is practically in my backyard,” she said. “I thought it would be great to come back to West Hartford and teach at a school where I heard so many great things about.”

Aside from being a teacher for many years, Ms. Ma is heavily involved in politics, specifically the West Hartford local government. She is mainly interested in education related issues, especially how the local government can make the public education system equitable for everybody.

“In 2001, I got started,” Ms. Ma said. “I was district vice chair, and I ran and won in election back in 2009, I was the first non-white person ever to serve in West Hartford government in 150 years of history.”

From living in Mongolia, to becoming a freshman at Wesleyan University in her late twenties, to teaching Chinese at Loomis, it is clear that Ms. Ma’s life is a fascinating one and we are so happy to gain an amazing new faculty member.