Mount Airy City Schools hosted 23 principals from China on Friday.
The educators came from the city of XuZhou in Jiangsu Province to meet students and teachers and witness some classroom settings.
The visit focused on the district’s national award-winning K-12 STEAM program as well as the school system’s efforts in global education, according to Dr. Kim Morrison, MACS chief innovation and academic ofﬁcer. Principals were able to visit the Mandarin Chinese class at Mount Airy High as well as the Language Leaders (dual language immersion) class at Tharrington.
For the start of the 2014-15 school year, Mount Airy first offered Mandarin as a foreign language. Later that semester, the school system sent administrators and board members to China. The result of the trip abroad was a partnership with educators from across the world. Since this partnership began, Mount Airy High School sent nine students to China and plan to send more in Spring 2015.
The international travel and experience provides students with a greater appreciation for other cultures and brings a global awareness that will serve them well in their future careers, the school system believes. Through travel and Mandarin Chinese, students have experienced dynamic learning that is hard to ﬁnd.
The visit to Mount Airy is one of three groups to come to the state in the past year through a partnership that began in November 2014 with the UNC Center of International Understanding.
“North Carolina students will be working with people all over the world, and making international connections helps prepare them to succeed and thrive in the global community and marketplace,” said Julie McGaha, CIU director of education.
“International education is a two-way street,” she said. “We can all learn from each other through global experiences from traveling abroad to making a connection in a North Carolina classroom with a visiting educator from another country and culture.”
In October 2014, the CIU announced a goal of turning North Carolina into a national leader in helping students with “global readiness.”
In 2013, the UNC school system (made up of 17 campuses) had students taking 65,000 foreign language classes, but 90 percent of them were in Western European studies like Spanish, French and Italian. Only a small percent were studying Chinese, despite the Asian nation having a greater population than any country on earth. That is an area of concern for the CIU.
“It is such a great compliment to the hard work and effort of our teachers and staff to be selected as one of North Carolina’s host sites for this international exchange,” said Dr. Greg Little, Superintendent. “Knowing that our district has such a tremendous reputation for innovation and success is so exciting. We are proud to highlight the incredible opportunities taking place in our district.”
In addition to the school tours, the visiting principals had the opportunity to speak with local administrators about their leadership.
Mount Airy City Schools said that the goal of these discussions is to develop a cross-cultural collaboration of administrators to better understand how different cultures conduct school. Visiting principals also submitted questions for MACS principals to answer and discuss during a panel discussion following lunch. This discussion’s focus was American education and the vision of administrators for MACS.
“MACS is excited about this global partnership where our administrators and students are able to share their expertise with principals from China,” said Morrison. “This connection with schools from around the world will help our students be better prepared to work in a global society.”