Two Teachers from China to Spend Year at Natick Schools
NATICK - When she vacationed in China last year, Kennedy Middle School Principal Rosemary Vickery noticed many Chinese spoke English.
Returning to the United States, she said she noticed comparatively few Americans speak Mandarin.
"It's starting to become more (popular)," said Vickery, who serves on the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Global Education Advisory Council. "Middle schools are starting to offer it."
This fall, Natick will launch a Mandarin program at the high school and Kennedy and Wilson middle schools, as two teachers from China join the faculty for the year.
Nancy Yulan will teach at the middle schools as part of an exchange program with Mianyang Dongchen International School in Sichuan Province. Natick High School teacher Joseph McFarland will travel to China and teach at Mianyang Dongchen.
Sheng Wenjuan will teach at Natick High School through a fellowship she was awarded from the U.S. Department of State to participate in the 2012 Teachers of Critical Languages Program.
"It’s to expand our student and staff understanding of this global world we live in," Assistant Superintendent Karen LeDuc said.
The teachers will stay with host families, but may eventually find an apartment in the Natick area. The district received a grant through Wenjuan’s program to cover her housing and other expenses and is establishing partnerships with businesses and community groups to cover Yulan’s stay, LeDuc said.
Natick was one of 16 schools throughout the country who will host a Chinese teacher through the fellowship. Seventy-five districts applied, said Daniel Cassiday, a program officer with the American Councils for International Education, which implements the Teachers of Critical Languages Program.
"They can really give the students a sense of what the culture is like beyond what they might get in a textbook or newspaper article," Cassiday said of the teachers.
Cassiday said the program was looking for districts seeking to start or significantly expand a Mandarin program.
Seventh-graders will be able to take Mandarin at the middle schools, although Vickery said she hopes to add a unit on the language and Chinese culture to a sixth-grade class. LeDuc said district staff plan to organize community events as well.
"It will really expand what we’re offering our kids," Vickery said.
Published in The MetroWest Daily News.
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