Learning with Daniel Gumarang and Larry Tash

Training Program with Graduate Education Students from China

Graduate students from China who are about to enter the teaching profession, visit California to learn about the American educational culture, American instructional practices, and innovative changes being introduced across the country to improve student achievement. Following our visit to schools in Beijing, meeting with teachers and administrators at all levels, it became clear that there is great interest in introducing Chinese educators to pedagogy that leads to increased student creativity and innovation.  Within this context, we have heard over and over that Chinese educators are very interested in the concept of STEM and STEAM education as it is being practiced in American schools.  There is an awareness that within the United States, there is a major focus on students being college and career ready by the time they complete high school.

We believe that all students need to graduate from high school with the 21st Century Skills firmly in place.  These 21st Century Skills include the 4Cs, communication, collaboration, creativity (innovation), and critical thinking.  Since these are skills, they need to be developed and beginning in elementary school and practice must continue right through college graduation and beyond.  Reaching this goal with ALL students in mind is a global challenge and for us, we start with teaching the teachers.

In order to meet the goals we have developed for our program, we focus on three specific areas of educational support with our graduate students.  First, discuss issues of instructional strategies and educational pedagogy that relate closely to the over goals.  Second, we work with our students on a critical study of school climate and student motivation.  Third, we address the issues that students bring to our attention each week following their week long visits to elementary, middle, and senior high schools.  There is a fourth focus of this class as many of our students use these meetings with Daniel and Larry to deepen their knowledge of topics that they are working on for their graduate school thesis.

Educational pedagogy is a very important area for all educators in all countries including in the USA and China.  So, we share some of the 21st Century Strategies that are commonly used in American classrooms but less frequently experienced in Chinese schools at this time.


 2458777_web1_160422-REDChinatripNorman Rockwell Elementary principal, teacher discuss education in China

by KIRSTEN GOMETZ,  Redmond Reporter Contributor 

Apr 22, 2016 at 12:00AM updated at 11:48AM

On March 27, passports and travel visas in hand, fifth-grade teacher Mary Kay Weinmeister and I climbed aboard a flight in Seattle bound for Beijing, China. We were on our way to share aspects of our education system with audiences throughout southern China, upon invitation from the American Education Federation (AEF). Having hosted 34 students from Beijing at Norman Rockwell Elementary in January, we had a rudimentary understanding of what we were heading into. Still, the excitement and anticipation (and, to be honest, sheer nerves) were palpable as we boarded our 12-hour flight.

We first learned about AEF when I was contacted in September 2015 by the director of International Programs here in the United States. Ray Yu was seeking schools interested in hosting several students visiting from Beijing, who were touring the west coast and who wanted to experience a day in the life of an American student. As part of this cultural exchange, he also invited me and a veteran teacher to come to China, to teach educators there about aspects of the American education system. Through a partnership with the Chinese National Institute of Education Sciences, they would fund the trip and send us to different schools to present upon the topics of Building Positive School Culture and Classroom Engagement, and for Mary Kay to teach demonstration lessons with the aid of an interpreter. While this offer sounded too good to be true, our investigations proved that it was, in fact, bona fide. With our hearts in our throats, and unable to resist such an amazing offer, we accepted.

Having hosted several students and educators at Rockwell in January, we knew that the schools we would visit would be much larger than ours. While we tend to think of our school as relatively large, with 640 students, elementary schools in China often exceed 1,000. We did not know the size of the audiences we would meet, but packed several manipulative materials to lead groups through activities requiring teamwork and a high level of cognitive engagement. All of our materials had been sent ahead to be translated into Chinese, so all that was left was to gather host gifts and board the plane to Beijing, where we would meet our translator, Gabby…

…which did not happen. We deplaned in the Beijing airport, bleary-eyed, and looked around for someone with a sign. Or someone who might be looking for four Americans. Or anyone. When none of these things presented themselves, we began searching for the route to domestic flights, as we needed to board another plane that evening to Changzhou, a two-hour flight, and time was passing quickly. With virtually no Chinese language skills among us, we found our way, much to the wondering looks of passersby. Once at our new flight, we finally met up with Gabby — apologetic and flustered, she told us that we were the first group of Americans who had ever made our way to the connecting flight alone. Though exhausted, we had some small sense of pride in having done so. Gabby quickly took over in taking us under her wing for the remainder of our trip, and was the most gracious translator and host we could have hoped for.

The next morning, still somewhat disoriented, we were taken to the Changzhou Wujin Xinghe Primary School, where we were greeted by a contingency of students who led us by the hand into their beautiful building. All of the schools we visited had multiple floors, three or more — a necessity in China, where we visited schools with up to 1,500 students. The welcome we received was so gracious and warm that any trepidation melted as we were led through classrooms, taught calligraphy, eagerly welcomed by staff and students and seated for a feast with the heads of the school. The facilities we toured were phenomenal — this school had state-of-the-art science rooms, music and art facilities and a basement floor that could pass as a children’s science museum with its interactive displays on electricity, volcanoes and physics, including a bike with square wheels, which we could only pedal in cooperation. The students were eager to share their writing, their books and their music and art with us. The facilities themselves were beautiful — well-lighted classrooms with many windows, clean and uncluttered — and there, as in every school we toured, plants were everywhere. From small plants to larger potted trees, each school was lined with many of these, and we witnessed many students tending these as part of their classroom duties. Whether this was part of the established classroom cultures or as a part of the initiative in China to plant 100 billion trees by 2050, I never did learn.

Lunch quickly segued into presentation time, and all of our nerves came rushing back. An auditorium of Chinese educators awaited our information, so with a warm glass of tea in our hands and encouraging smiles from our hosts, we took the stage. While it took a bit of practice to get used to pausing for interpretation every minute or two, we quickly warmed to the crowd, and they to us. They were eager to learn about our school and classroom cultures, and in our initial think-pair-share sessions, we were entertained to learn what many of them had heard about American classrooms. Teachers and administrators wondered at the freedom they thought American students have — freedom to move around if they were bored, and that there weren’t rules or principles (allowing for translation subtleties, this was a prevailing theme through all of the schools we visited). They wanted to hear about all of the resources available to American teachers and schools. Many were surprised to learn that in American elementary schools, teachers usually teach all content areas — math, reading, writing, science, social studies — as in China teachers are content specialists, and young students have different teachers for different subjects, much as we do in secondary schools here. At one school, Mary Kay received a spontaneous round of applause from the audience when they realized that American teachers must be experts in every content area.

The classroom engagement strategies we used with our audiences were well-received, and we learned that some things are universal: just like American students, it is very hard to get the attention of a group back on the teacher once they have started problem solving and building together! The videos and photos we shared of differentiation and small group instruction, as well as hands-on investigations, were also fodder for excitement. Our first host school was eager to set up a sister school relationship so that we may continue to learn and grow together from across the ocean. The most fun was in watching their fifth-grade students explore new learning with Mary Kay, and to watch her quickly find her stride as a teacher, with language as only the smallest of barriers.

The excitement and welcome we received in Changzhou continued in Chengdu, a beautiful city that offered us the opportunity to tour and present at two different schools in one day: the Chengshi Eldo Experimental Primary School and the Jinjiang Foreign Language Primary School. From Chengdu, we traveled to Xi’an, where we met our largest audience yet at the Rich and Force City Huang He International Primary School. At each site, we shared what we knew about positive school culture and classroom engagement, and Mary Kay built a new classroom of learners with their fifth-graders, exploring which variables might have an effect on the swing of a pendulum. All of the students we met were ready to engage hands-on, to debate and question together, and to explore learning in new ways with us. The adults, educators and parents alike, were equally passionate to do so.

Throughout the tour, the hard work with our school groups was interspersed with visits to cultural wonders: The Terra Cotta Warriors, the Huaqing Pools, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall. Everywhere, we were honored by our hosts, showered with gifts and thanks, and given the best that anyone could offer: full noodle bowls, beautiful lodgings, open smiles. Many, many people wanted to take photos with us, as we were simply a curiosity — though this was never rude; the curious glances usually came with a smile and a wave.

We will always be grateful for the opportunity we were given. Our week in China left us with much to ponder. Language is not nearly the barrier one might think, in building relationships; much can be learned with a smile and an open heart. For all the traffic and clamor, we never saw an angry driver; we simply heard frequent beeps of car horns indicating “Hey, I’m here.” The generosity we received from other educators inspired us to realize how much we all have to offer others. The history and pride in China’s cultural heritage was everywhere: both inspiring and humbling. Most of all, it is the openness and eagerness to build partnerships and learn from one another that we will carry with us — the awareness that each party is doing their utmost to provide an outstanding education for their children, and the desire to improve that work by collaborating across the ocean.

We are so fortunate to live and work in Redmond, where families come from all over the world in search of the best for their children. We are honored to be part of that journey for each family we serve. I believe it is through the development of continued partnerships with educators here and across the world that we will see these wishes come to fruition. We extend our tremendous gratitude to the AEF, and to all the people of China we were fortunate enough to meet, for helping us grow as educators and as human beings.

Kirsten Gometz is the principal at Norman Rockwell Elementary School in Redmond.



Edgewood High School Students to Visit China

On March 27, 2015, fifteen students from Edgewood High School, chaperoned by three teachers, flew to China on exchange mission, and the whole trip lasted for eight days. In the past two years, supported by American Education Federation, Edgewood High School has established sister-school relations with two Chinese high schools, namely, Hongzhi Middle School in Beijing, and Baoding No. 3 Middle School in Baoding. American students were excited to visit both schools, interacted with Chinese students, attended Chinese cultural classes, and had homestay experience. During their stay in China, the American delegation also had opportunities to visit some major historic attractions like Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tianmen Square, etc. The highlight of the trip was to take a bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai, and the students were marveled by modern Chinese ingenuity, especially considering this was the first train ride experience for many of them in life. They were also impressed by the modern and dazzling mega city of Shanghai, often dubbed by Westerners “Manhattan of the Orient”,  evidenced by countless number of skyscrapers, combined with rich cultural traditions.



















Conference on Teaching Methods in China

In the past few years, China has been undergoing educational reform, and many Chinese educators look up to America for new ideas. In China today, the prevailing teaching method is still teacher-centered lecture style. There is lot less interaction between teachers and students, resulting in the lack of balance between the delivery of content and acquisition of knowledge. How to make sure students efficiently absorb and apply in classrooms baffles teachers.

To address some of the issues and challenges facing Chinese teachers, American Education Federation send teams of American educators to China on a regular basis, attending seminars or conferences as panel speakers, conducting PPT presentations, visiting Chinese schools and exchanging ideas with Chinese educators. While in China, American educators also have the opportunities to visit Chinese schools, learn about how they teach and what their strength is, and bring it back to enhance their own teaching.

Below are some photos, showing American educators on a recent AEF-sponsored trip to China, participating in the conference on US-China Comparative Study on Education:

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Parent Engagement Specialist to Speak to Chinese Educators and Parents in Beijing

Sponsored by American Education Federation, starting on March 10 through 19, 2015, Beatrice Fernandez is on a trip to China, the purpose of which is to hold PPT presentations on the roles of parents in education. Being the lead trainer of Family Outreach and Engagement Department of San Diego Unified School District and also the adjunct professor of San Diego State University, Ms. Fernandez is a renowned speaker on parent involvement in education, addressing the challenges facing parents who play active roles in school education.

Ms. Fernandez had opportunities to visit Chinese schools in Beijing and Xi’an, and exchanged views with Chinese educators.









Courtesy of South Pasadena Review, below is a news report regarding Chinese educators visiting South Pasadena Unified School District:

On Monday, February 23, a group of five educators from China visited SPUSD’s District Office and Arroyo Vista Elementary School. The group toured various offices and many classrooms throughout the morning long visit. The purpose of their visit was to learn about the role of a school district and how schools are run. The group was sponsored by the American Education Federation (amedu.org) whose mission is to facilitate international collaboration in education in the areas of student exchange, faculty exchange, professional development. From left are Ray Yu, director of international programs at American Education Federation; Yaqin Qiao, dean of the office of instruction at Zhang Yi College; Geoff Yantz, superintendent of the South Pasadena Unified School District; Lejing Guo, dean of the office of instruction at the Education Science Academy in Shan Xi, China; Cheryl Busick, Arroyo Vista Elementary School principal; Xia Li, elementary principal at Hang Zhou Jin Yuan School in Zhejiang Province, China; Katy Nielsen, preschool director and dual immersion coordinator for SPUSD; and Yuxi Ma, dean of Education Science Academy in Shan Xi, China.


Students from China Visit Sister School in AmericaIMG_0730

On February 12, 2015, Edgewood High School, a California-distinguished school in West Covina welcomed 22 students from its sister school in China. Chinese students were excited to visit the American school and had two-day classroom experience. Realizing the importance of sister-school exchange programs, American Education Federation encourages local schools to partner with Chinese schools and learn from each other through students or faculty visit, or pen-pal connection.



Chinese Students to Visit a Magnet School in San Diego

On February 5, 2015,  a group of 23 Chinese students and teachers from Chuiyangliu Elementary School in China visited Benchley Weinberger Elementary School, a high-performing school in SanDSC00060 Diego. Ms. Patton, principal of Benchley-Weinberger Elementary School welcomed and briefed the Chinese student delegation, followed by campus tour, classroom visits, and interactions with American students and teachers. For Chinese students, this opportunity allowed them to build up friendship with American kids and get a taste of American classroom experience. For Chinese teachers, this visit gave them an opportunity to gain insight into American instructional strategies, classroom management, and how teachers engage and interact with students. On the second day of their visit, Chinese students put up performances for American students. It was a meaningful exchange visit, filled with many fond memories.



Chinese Student Delegations to attend Harvard Model United Nations ConferenceIMG_0912

Sponsored by American Education Federation, 14 high school students from Guangqumen Middle School had the opportunity to participate in the highly-anticipated 2015 Harvard Model United Nations Program (HMUN). Held annually in downtown Boston, Harvard Model United Nations is a four-day event of international relations simulation for high school students representing UN member countries.

Our delegation was selected to represent Democratic Republic of the Congo and divided into two committees: General Assembly and Regional Body. During the conference, they had been working on complex global issues including national security, international law, health, human right, economics and trade. When debating on these issues, not only they developed their abilities to work with others who were passionate about the same topic, but they learned the importance of balancing national interests with the needs of international community. Also the student leaned how to preserve the their countries’ national policy while negotiating in the face of other international policies. HMUM is really an exciting opportunity for students to debate IMG_0913issues that confront world leaders and to draft resolutions in response to these global issues.



EHS students to visit China

On April 11, 2014, 25 students from Edgewood High School chaperoned by their teachers visited Beijing Hongzhi Middle School, a high-performing school in Beijing. The Principle welcomed them and introduced his school to American friends. American students then had an opportunity to have campus tour, followed by classroom visits, interaction with Chinese students and teachers, discussion about the different education system between the two countries. They learned more about Chinese students, Chinese classroom, Chinese culture, also American kids have an opportunity to build a relationship with Chinese students. In the following days, they came to visit major tourist attractions in Beijing, such as Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and Summer Palace. They were impressed by the enduring history of China, and took photo everywhere for memento. This meaningful exchange visit promoted interaction international education programs, academic skills, and cultural exchanges.

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American Educators to Demo Science Lesson in China

In late March 2014, Beijing welcomed an educational delegation group from San Diego, one of the most IMG_0289beautiful coastal cities in the USA.  Every year, American Education Federation (AEF) sponsor many educational exchange programs to bring educators together to learn from each other and fine tune our instructional approaches. This China-bound delegation was formed based on that mission.

For the past few years, AEF has been actively working with many public school districts through school activities and professional development programs in helping and promoting educational exchange and collaboration between the US and China.  The knowledge of the American educational system and instructional strategies have been highly regarded by Chinese educators and administrators.  Led by Michael George, a  delegation of school principals and teachers from San Diego visited China in March, 2014.  AEF started to prepare for the trip about six month ago to make sure that the delegation had enough time to prepare for the instructional exchange and demo lessons.

The first Chinese school they visited is a public school by the name of  the Elementary School attached to Beijing Normal University.  This elementary school is a well-managed high performing school located in the Haidian IMG_0292district of Beijing.  On the first day, Michael George, briefly introduced several American instructional strategies  to the Chinese teachers and administrators.  Michael’s presentation aroused a lot of interest and excitement among the audiences.  The Chinese teachers asked a lot of questions and they had deep discussions with the American delegation. The first day presentation ended successfully.

The second day at this school started with few demonstration lessons presented by both Chinese and American teachers.  They demonstrated a science lesson in front of forty students using the same topics to show the different teaching methods being used for this lesson while other Chinese teachers were observing and taking notes.  The science topic was to teach students how a plumule turned into an embryo and finally become a small plant.  Both teachers did a good job demonstrating this topic to the students using their own teaching materials, which held the students attention and interest during the class.  After finishing the class, both teachers sat down and shared ideas of how they constructed the plans for the science lesson and the content was delivered.

On the third day, the American delegation visited one of the high achieving elementary schools located in the center of Beijing.  Surprisingly, the school sent two 5th graders in school uniforms as school ambassadors toIMG_0295 welcome the delegation.  These two students spoke very fluent English and gave a tour of their campus to the American educators.  From this tour, the American delegation learned that this school also accepted international students who could speak fluent English and Chinese.  The campus was well decorated with many international elements that represented different cultures.  After the campus tour, Michael George did a demo lesson using the graphic organizers in front of some of school teachers and administrators.  The whole presentation was broadcast live around the school campus and many teachers had the opportunity to watch it in real time.

In the afternoon, one of the American middle school principals did a science and math lesson demonstration in front of twenty students.  The students found it very interesting that the American teacher used his dog as an example during the class.  Although some of Chinese students were a little nervous in the class, they seemed to enjoy different approach to teaching that the American teacher used during the class.  After the demonstration classes, the Chinese principal and the delegation had a deep conversation, focusing mostly on the school management and teachers’ teaching methods.  We believed that they had learned so much from this face -to -face communication that they had a better understanding of both of the educational systems in the US and China.

Time passed by very quickly.  Before departing for Xian, the American educators had an opportunity of visiting some landmark sites in Beijing, such as Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and Summer Palace.  They were so amazed and impressed by the IMG_0298enduring history of China that they videotaped everywhere in Beijing. They planned to use these video clips as part of their teaching materials for their own students.

The entire group, not only had such a fantastic time learning about Chinese history and their educational system, but the sightseeing trips to historic and cultural landmarks were unforgettable experiences to them.  The hosts from the American Education Federation and the local schools were so warm and gracious that it made this trip exceptional unforgettable.



Educational Trip to China’s Ancient Capital-Xi’an

Xi’an is the capital city of Shanxi province. It is considered as one of the oldest cites in China with more than 3,100 years of history.  The city was known as Chang’an before the Ming Dynasty.  Today, Xi’an is well-known for the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.photo15

Xi’an International High-Tech Elementary School (XIHT) is proudly located in the well-developed high-tech district of Xi’ an.  Built in May of 2002, the school campus has a big open area of 100 acres that provides well diversified classes and international programs for students from K-12.  The school is divided into domestic and international divisions. With an enrollment of more than 2000 students, XIHT is considered one of the well-known schools in that area.

In March of 2013, organized by American Education Federation (AEF), XIHT invited two American educators from Los Angeles, California for classroom observation with the idea of a potential future professional development workshop in the school.  Dr. Gloria Johnston and Dr. Bonita Bell have been working in professional development for K-12 teachers in the US for many years.  For the past few years, they have been working very closely with AEF in helping primary and secondary schools with teaching methodologies and interactive teaching methods.  After a long international flight to Beijing and then transferring to Xi’an, Dr. Johnston and Dr. Bell were still very excited to share their experiences with the students and faculty members at XIHT.photo14

The first day at the school, the school principle of XIHT and other faculty members welcomed the American educator team.  Since Dr. Johnston was officially given the honorary principle position by the school, the school held a ceremony for Dr. Johnston with more than 300 faculty members attending the event.  Dr. Johnston felt very honored and excited for her position.  During her speech, she expressed her graduate to the school and willingness of helping XIHT become the number one best school in China, which was very encouraging to the students and teachers.  After the ceremony, the American team started visiting a few classrooms and observing the classes conducted by the Chinese teachers.  They paid a lot of attention to the teachers’ classroom teaching styles and checked how much students learned from the class.  After finishing each section, the school teachers were eager to gather together, exchanging their ideas and strategies with the American team.  Dr. Johnston and Dr. Bell generously gave their opinions based on what they saw and recommended many good teaching methods to help the students learn more and making the lesson more interesting.  For example, they suggested that the Chinese teachers should use thumbs-up as a signal to check how many students had understood the content and thumbs-down to find out the number of students who did not understand the lesson completely.  The Chinese teachers found out this sign language is not only easy to use during the class, but most importantly they knew their students’ learning paces to determine when they should stop to reteach the current subject or move on to a new subject.  The American team also shared many interactive teaching methods and valuable feedback for the Chinese teachers and students.  photo17

The most exciting part of this visit was the demonstration lesson from the American team.  After carefully preparation, the American team did a wonderful American classroom demonstration lesson in front of seventy-five audiences.  Conducted by Dr. Johnston and Dr. Bell, twenty-five Chinese teachers acted as students during the demo lesson.  Dr. Bell lectured on an English language arts lesson by using one of the strategies from graphic organizers.  This is the first time that the Chinese teachers learned about using graphic organizers as a main strategy. It was new and exciting to them.  Dr. Bell explained the importance of using this strategy for students to remember the content easier and a great way to study by themselves.  The audiences were very excited to learn something new and be able to use in their daily teaching.  The teachers were also very cooperative during the class time.  The whole lesson lasted about one and half hours followed with a question and answer session.  The atmosphere of the classroom was full of fun and learning spirit. The audiences were observing on the side and coming up with many interesting questions for the lesson.  Dr. Johnston answered each question carefully with passion. The audiences felt the time passing by so quickly and wished the lesson would last longer.photo16

Three days passed by so quickly.  Xi’An is a wonderful city to visit; the history, Silk Road, and Terracotta Army were among many great memories created for the American team.  Three days were not such a long time; however, the friendship between the American team and XIHT and the common goals for building better education will last forever.



Chinese Educators to Visit SMBCCS

History of SMBCCS

Located in the West Hollywood area of Los Angeles, Santa Monica Boulevard Community Charter School (SMBCCS) is proud of its long and rich history in their community.  Established in 1910, the school celebrated their Centennial in September of 2010.  Although 92% of their students are from Spanish families in the neighborhood, over the years, the school has sufficiently managed more than 900 of its students.  SMBCCS has become part of the Los Angeles Unified School District that serves grades from kindergarten to fifth grade.IMG_8141

Contribution to Community

In the morning of March, 2013, the school principle of SMBCCS, Mr. Vahe Markarian and five other student leaders welcomed the Chinese educators from Beijing Tsinghua Elementary School to SMBCCS.  First, the Chinese visitors had a short meeting with Mr. Markarian and school faculties.  Besides learning the history of the school, the visitors were eager to find out how and why SMBCCS became a charter school, such as the qualification, procedure, and benefits for students and teachers.  Mr. Markarian answered all the questions raised by the guests.  After that, Mr. Markarian walked with the visitors to a single family house next to the school.  As a charter school, the school management has the advantage of self-managing their funds.  In order to help some economically-disadvantaged Hispanic families increase their educational levels, the school purchased a house, rebuilt it and set it up as a parent educational center for the Hispanic community.  At the educational center, the Chinese educators saw that the majority of the people in the center were students’ parents trying to improve their English speaking and writing skills.  The school believed, if their students’ parents had a better education, they would have the ability to help their children with homework and contribute much more to their communities.  The Chinese visitors were impressed by the school’s concern for the students and the determination of helping its students improve their academic performances.

Cooperative Learning Approach

The cooperative learning approach has been widely used by the American education system for a long time.  SMBCCS is not an exception.  As a matter of fact, the school has done a great job using this approach in every classroom and in every subject they teach.  The Chinese visitors also noticed that students were not only divided into groups for them to exchange their ideas and learn from each other, but they worked very closely to finish school projects together.  The school principle told us that this classroom instructional strategy prepared students on how to function as a team when working as well as in society in the future.  It also trained students on becoming not only a good team player but an outstanding leader.  After learning the cooperative learning approach, the Chinese educators showed a great interest in implementing this strategy into the “Chinese classroom” teaching styles.

Management Skills

Working with 900 students is not always easy for the school principle and his management team.  However, the school has set up very clear rules for students to follow on a daily bases.  For example, the school draws different lines on the playground for students to watch and control their behaviors as well as to protect students’ safety during their break time.  On the other hand, the school also utilizes some spare spaces efficiently on the campus and has designated them as an outdoor reading area for students to study and read.  As a result, the outdoor reading areas provide more studying spaces for students in addition to their classrooms and library.  To manage their faculty members, the school principle and faculty members have to renew their contracts with the school every year based on personal performances.  The school not only hires a teacher based on a yearly contract, but it also discharges a teacher if he/she does not perform well.  This demonstrates that the school bears a lot of responsibility and commitment to the school district as well as to the students and their parents.  The Chinese visitors felt that the school has done a great job in managing their students as well as the school.

Red Cross Quilt

Time passed by fast, and the visit at SMBCCS was coming to an end.  The school principle gave the Chinese visitors a print of a Red Cross Quilt as a gift.  The current school principle explained that Dr. Hastings Arnold, Principal of Santa Monica Boulevard School in 1992, designated former teacher, Eva Jones, to coordinate a project to commemorate a signature quilt created in support of the American Red Cross and their efforts during World War I.   Ms. Jones discovered the existence of the historic quilt, which hangs in Ms. Elizabeth Dole’s office in the Red Cross Building in Washington D.C.  Ms. Jones and her students recreated the quilt to connect the students to their past, present and future.  Now, the quilt is the center piece of their new history in education project titled “Signing On.”  The print shows the “New” Quilt, from 1992, which now hangs across the hall from the original in the Red Cross Building in Washington, D.C.

After visiting

SMBCCS impressed the Chinese educators in many ways with its own unique personalities and characters.  From its long history…..to the Red Cross Quilt, the school is truly helping their students to reconnect their past and present.  Most important, the school and its faculty members are trying conscientiously to build a bright future for the students and community to show that they truly care.



Chinese Winter Camp Student Group to Visit Schools in San Diego

It was another exciting day for a group of thirty-four Chinese students and six teachers, who just had two wonderful trips visiting elementary schools in San Diego.  Although it was January of 2013, the weather of San Diego was cold but incredibly beautiful.  Visiting the United States was quite a new experience for most of the Chinese elementary students.  However, the recent two-day’s experience at Benchely-Weinberger elementary school and Encanto Academic Academy were one of greatest moments that they ever had in their lifetime.

These Chinese elementary students, who traveled thousand miles away from Beijing, were going to experience the western cultural during their thirteen days visiting the United States.  In this group, there were twenty-six baseball players whose ages ranged between eight and eleven, and eight martial arts players whose ages ranged between eight and twelve.   It was the first time for them traveling to the United States.  During their first few days in Los Angeles, the group not only had a wonderful tour of Dodger’s Stadium, Staples Center, the Science Center, etc., but had a great chance of playing a match with a local baseball team in Hacienda Heights, California.  It was quite a match and great learning experience for both teams playing together.  Although these Chinese baseball players were only eight to eleven years old, their uniforms, well-trained postures, and etiquettes were very professional, which was representative of their attitudes and dedications to their loved sports.

On January 29th of 2013, the group visited Benchely-Weinberger elementary school (Benchely) in San Diego.  After almost three-hours of driving from Los Angeles, the students and teachers could hardly wait to meet their American friends and visit their classrooms at Benchely-Weinbgerger elementary school.  First, the school principle from Benchely gave them a big and warm welcome at the gate of the school. Then, the thirty four Chinese students were divided into several groups and were put into different classrooms.  They not only had a chance to sit and observe the American classrooms with other students, but also played a few sports together during the school’s recess time.  After lunch, the Chinese baseball team also had a friendly match with American baseball players from Benchely.  The highlight of the day was the performance presented by the Chinese martial arts team in front of hundreds of students and teachers from Benchely.  The performance was about half an hour long, but in that short time their professional and challenging movements surprised the audiences and gained so much respect for these young Chinese players.  It was such a great opportunity for American students to gain knowledge and recognition about Chinese art and culture.

On January 30th of 2013, the visit to Encanto Academic Academy was an amazing experience for students and teachers from WanQuan elementary school.  Although 95% of the students from Encanto are from low-income Hispanic families in the area, the school is very clean and well organized.  The school principal and other faculty members gave us a wonderful tour and introduction about the school. The Chinese teachers felt that they had learned so much from them during their visits.  The Chinese martial arts team also had a chance to perform their skills and present the Chinese art in front of hundreds of people in the audience.  Eventually, their accomplishment won much applause which will encourage them to practice more in the future.

Although it was a very short period of time and there might have been a little language barrier, the passion for sports and arts made a huge connection between the Chinese and American students.  It was quite a journey and great influence for the Chinese students who might want to pursue their American dreams in the near future; it was also quite an eye-opening experience for the American students to see the eastern culture in front of their eyes and to gain knowledge about China and the world.


U.S. Schools to Host Teachers from China
Native Mandarin Speakers to Serve as Authentic Cultural Resources

Thirty-four Mandarin-speaking teachers from China will arrive in the United States this week as part of the Chinese Guest Teacher Program. Teachers will be placed in schools and districts in 19 states and will teach at the high school, middle school, and elementary school level. (Host school and district names are listed at the end of the release.) By 2009, the Program will bring as many as 250 qualified teachers from China to teach in American classrooms for up to three years.

The Chinese Guest Teacher Program is sponsored by Hanban, China’s Office of Chinese Language Council International, in partnership with the College Board. Teacher stipends are being paid by Hanban while host schools provide housing, transportation, and administrative fees (for visa processing and required health insurance). Guest teachers are interviewed by the College Board for pedagogy, classroom management, cultural tolerance, and language skills in both Chinese and English.

The program represents a unique opportunity for students and educators to learn Chinese and learn about China from a native speaker. Schools and districts will start a new Chinese program or expand an existing program. In addition, guest teachers will assist with curriculum development, student recruitment, and materials development. They will also serve as a cultural resource for other subject areas and for cultural enrichment activities in the community.

The guest teachers will work at the host schools for 18 months, and then renew for an additional year if both the school and teacher are satisfied. The Chinese Guest Teacher Program seeks to address the shortage of qualified Chinese teachers in the U.S. and meet the growing interest in Chinese among U.S. high school students. The next group of up to 100 teachers will arrive in August 2007.

“We are pleased to enable more American students to learn the Chinese language, discover the vibrant culture of China, and participate more fully in the cultural exchange between our two countries,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “More than 200 million children in China are studying English, yet only 24,000 children in the United States are studying Chinese. In addition, China’s tremendous economic growth will create new opportunities and challenges for our country. It’s time that we offer a twenty-first-century choice to our students.” Chinese is the most widely spoken first language in the world. It is the national language of the more than 1.3 billion inhabitants of China and millions more ethnic Chinese around the globe.

In an Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) survey conducted in 2004, nearly 2,400 high schools expressed an interest in offering the AP Chinese course in 2006-07, but for many of these schools, this goal may go unrealized. They either are understaffed or have no teacher of Chinese, and many see no prospect of finding the teachers necessary to build their programs. This increasingly common predicament underscores the shortage of qualified teachers of Chinese in the United States.

In April 2006, the College Board and Hanban announced the formation of a partnership to build and expand Chinese language programs in U.S. schools. As part of the partnership, Hanban and the College Board will make available scholarships for American teacher candidates seeking state certification to teach Chinese. Last summer, 400 American educators had the opportunity to travel to China to become familiar with China’s people, language, culture, and education systems. The trip, which will be repeated this year, provided incentives and strategies for the educators to return to the United States better able to support the growth of Chinese programs in their own schools.

Also last summer, 60 American teachers of Chinese benefited from intensive, three-week Summer Institutes held at Beijing Normal University in Beijing and Shanghai International Studies University in Shanghai. In 2007 and coming years, these programs will expand; more than 500 current teachers are expected to attend the professional development programs in China by 2010.

Established by the Chinese government in 1987, Hanban is the nation’s official agency authorized to promote Chinese language and culture internationally, fulfilling a function similar to that of the UK’s British Council and France’s Alliance Française.

Participating Schools and Districts:

Hulstrom K-8 Options School, Northglenn, CO
Duval County Public Schools, Jacksonville, FL
Savannah Chatham County Public Schools, Savannah, GA
Urbana School District, Urbana, IL
Signature School, Evansville, IN
Lafayette School Corporation, Lafayette, IN
Northridge High School, Middlebury, IN
W Lafayette Community School Corporation, W Lafayette, IN
USD 266, Maize, Maize, KS
Unified School District 250, Pittsburg, KS
Maine School Administrative District #4, Guilford, ME
Richard J. Murphy School, Boston, MA
Catholic Memorial School, West Roxbury, MA
Whitman-Hanson Regional School District, Whitman, MA
St. Mary’s County Public Schools, Leonardtown, MD
Delano High School, Delano, MN
The International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie, MN
Park Hill School District, Kansas City, MO
Union County Public Schools, Monroe, NC
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Winston-Salem, NC
Columbus School for Girls, Columbus, OH
Lawton School District, Lawton, OK
Belmont Charter School, Philadelphia, PA
Shady Side Academy Senior School, Pittsburgh, PA
The Kiski School, Saltsburg, PA
Dent Middle School, Columbia, SC
Chesterfield County Public Schools, Chesterfield, VA
York County School Division, Yorktown, VA
Peninsula School District # 401, Gig Harbor, WA
Seattle Public Schools, Seattle, WA
Lincoln County Schools, Hamlin, WV
Cabell County Public Schools, Huntington, WV
South Charleston High School, South Charleston, WV
Marathon City School District, Marathon, WI