A Mount Airy City Schools delegation recently returned from a visit to China.
This wasn’t the first exchange between the local school district and the Asian country. School leaders traveled there in 2014, and both Chinese students and educational leaders have visited the Granite City in the past 14 months.
A group of principals from China visited in October 2015 (bringing the grand total of visiting principals to 23). Then a dozen students arrived just as snow was blanketing the city in January. Those students were truly immersed in American lifestyles as they stayed in the homes of local youths.
According to city school leaders, this most recent trip was for learning more about the Chinese education system and culture and continuing to “nurture established partnerships that have created dynamic learning experiences for our students and staff over the past three years.”
School leaders and board members, such as chair Wendy Carriker, spent 10 days traveling and learning. They visited seven different schools in Province Tianjin. Not only did they get a firsthand look at the educational system and operations, but in their spare time they were able to visit the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
The ongoing partnership between the city schools and China has been made possible through cooperation with several agencies such as Go Global NC (formerly the Center for International Understanding), the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, the College Board, and Hanban, an organization affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.
Mandarin Chinese was added to Mount Airy High School’s course offerings in the fall of 2014. The district reasoned that Mandarin would be the most critical foreign language to learn for business purposes in a global economy.
Mount Airy is the only school within an hour’s drive to offer Chinese. Guilford County is the next-closest district. In this sixth year of a teacher-exchange program, Go Global NC estimates that 12,500 students statewide will take a Chinese class.
Carrie Venable, public information officer, said that learning a critical language has several benefits including that it:
• Equips students to choose their future and experience success.
• Allows students to become global leaders who are culturally aware.
• Empowers students with the tools necessary to be able to innovatively solve problems.
• Highlights the district’s commitment to innovative leadership and teaching that leads to high academic achievement for students.
• Bridges the gap to turn students’ goals and dreams into reality.
“The Chinese program at Mount Airy High School has quickly become a state and national model for how to prepare students for a future defined by globalization,” said Venable. “The program continues to grow and evolve into an incredible learning experience for our students and staff.”
In the past, MACS has sent a delegation of students to represent the United States at an international youth summit. There are plans to send more students to China in the coming year.
“We were able to see firsthand how their schools are similar yet different to our schools, with both emphasizing the importance of the whole child,” said Carriker. “They foster collaboration, innovation and creativity, just as we do.”
“We also had the opportunity to sign Memorandum of Understandings with a number of schools, so that we may foster relationships with our students in Mount Airy and the students in China,” she said.
“It is a great pleasure for us to be able to sign MOUs with schools across the globe and provide learning opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Kim Morrison, superintendent. “We are really thankful for our partners that believe in a global education and help to fund this trip.”
“From this experience I found that we are so much more alike than different,” said Kevin Joyce, assistant principal at Mount Airy High. “The need for global awareness for our students cannot be understated. We look forward to creating partnerships with many of the schools that we visited.”
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.