Northeast Times

A worldwide perspective

  • Not your average lesson plan: Students at Tacony Academy Charter School welcomed visiting principal Zhao Kuishu, of the XunZi Middle School, located in Han Shan District, Handan City, China. The event was made possible by the U.S.-China Administrators Shadowing Project, a program that supports educational exchange programs.

  • Not your average lesson plan: Students at Tacony Academy Charter School welcomed visiting principal Zhao Kuishu, of the XunZi Middle School, located in Han Shan District, Handan City, China. The event was made possible by the U.S.-China Administrators Shadowing Project, a program that supports educational exchange programs.

  • Not your average lesson plan: Students at Tacony Academy Charter School welcomed visiting principal Zhao Kuishu (pictured), of the XunZi Middle School, located in Han Shan District, Handan City, China. The event was made possible by the U.S.-China Administrators Shadowing Project, a program that supports educational exchange programs.

  • Not your average lesson plan: Students at Tacony Academy Charter School welcomed visiting principal Zhao Kuishu, of the XunZi Middle School, located in Han Shan District, Handan City, China. The event was made possible by the U.S.-China Administrators Shadowing Project, a program that supports educational exchange programs.

It wasn’t a typ­ic­al Monday morn­ing for the Amer­ic­an ele­ment­ary-aged stu­dents at Ta­cony Academy Charter School at 1330 Rhawn St.

This day was spe­cial for many reas­ons and be­cause of that, stu­dents were pre­pared to ex­per­i­ence this Monday dif­fer­ently than any oth­er.

Rather than at­tend­ing reg­u­larly sched­uled morn­ing classes, first- through eighth-graders gathered to wel­come vis­it­ing prin­cip­al Zhao Kuishu, of the Xun­Zi Middle School, loc­ated in Han Shan Dis­trict, Handan City, China. Kuishu was chosen to come to the school as part of the 2013-2014 U.S.-China Ad­min­is­trat­ors Shad­ow­ing Pro­ject (ASP), a pro­gram whose goal is to build and sup­port edu­ca­tion­al ex­change pro­grams between schools in the United States and those in China at the pre-col­lege level.

Just after se­lec­ted stu­dents sang Zhao Pengy­ou – a Chinese folk song - played waist drums and waved dan­cing flags, the en­tire stu­dent body offered a hearty “Nǐ Hǎo.” Re­spond­ing with his own “Nǐ Hǎo,” Kuishu ad­dressed his ad­mir­ing audi­ence of stu­dents, teach­ers and ad­min­is­trat­ors with help from an in­ter­pret­er.

“I am im­pressed with this warm wel­come. I came here to learn about your school, your school’s cul­ture and how you plan.”

Kuishu paused, offered a large, warm smile and con­tin­ued: “I would like to be­come good friends and es­tab­lish a part­ner­ship.”

That part­ner­ship, in ex­ist­ence be­cause of the work of the Chinese Ex­change Ini­ti­at­ive, is one where Kuishu spends two weeks in the United States – one week in Bo­ston ex­per­i­en­cing pro­fes­sion­al de­vel­op­ment with oth­er Chinese ad­min­is­trat­ors and the second week shad­ow­ing an Amer­ic­an host ad­min­is­trat­or at an Amer­ic­an host school. In Kuishu’s case, those host schools are the Ta­cony Academy Pre­par­at­ory Charter Ele­ment­ary School and Ta­cony Academy Pre­par­at­ory High School, both schools in the Amer­ic­an Paradigm School’s charter net­work.

That host Amer­ic­an ad­min­is­trat­or, Ster­ling Rayvon Gar­ris, is the CEO of these two schools and in April of 2014, he will vis­it Kuishu’s school in Handan City and have a mirrored ex­per­i­ence. Ac­cord­ing to Gar­ris, this pro­fes­sion­al in­ter­na­tion­al ex­change is mul­tipur­posed. Both ad­min­is­trat­ors will be view­ing the way the oth­er cre­ates and uses stu­dent as­sess­ments; ob­serving lan­guage and oth­er aca­dem­ic classes; and, in the case of Kuishu, ob­serving and un­der­stand­ing the im­pact of the Caring School Com­munity mod­el that is used at all Amer­ic­an Paradigm schools.

“As an edu­ca­tion­al pro­fes­sion­al,” Gar­ris noted, “I’m hop­ing to learn even more best prac­tices to bring back to our school.”

And, one of those already es­tab­lished best prac­tices has been to of­fer Man­dar­in Chinese to stu­dents at both charter schools.

“Chinese was the only for­eign lan­guage we were ori­gin­ally teach­ing,” Gar­ris shared. “As [our stu­dents] are be­com­ing glob­al cit­izens, this is a great time to part­ner with a [Chinese] school.”

Kuishu got to see first-hand how the Amer­ic­an stu­dents are en­ga­ging in the pro­cess of learn­ing the Chinese lan­guage. Stu­dent tour guide and sev­enth grader Ta­tiana Montijo spoke con­fid­ently about her study of the Chinese lan­guage and cul­ture.

“I’ve taken Chinese since the fourth grade,” Ta­tiana shared, “and when you are speak­ing it, you don’t use your tongue. You have to use a lot of muscles.”

That isn’t de­ter­ring her from learn­ing more of the lan­guage and her de­sire to vis­it a Chinese school.

“I would love to go to China and go to one of their schools and see how they com­pare to us.”

This in­ter­na­tion­al part­ner­ing re­la­tion­ship is start­ing with the prin­cipals vis­it­ing each oth­er. But, the ul­ti­mate goal is to be able to send stu­dents and teach­ers to part­ner schools to really em­brace the oth­er’s cul­ture.

Kuishu ex­pressed this in his open­ing com­ments: “I warmly wel­come every­one to come to my school to learn about Chinese cul­ture.”

And, just be­fore he and Gar­ris bowed to each oth­er, he ad­ded, “I would like to be­come good friends and I warmly wel­come you to come to my school to learn about my cul­ture. ••

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