It was during the second day of a four-day visit from a group of teachers from China when one of them told me, "Your schools are the best we've seen in this country!" I, honestly, sometimes think that very thought, but it's a bold proclamation and hard to quantify. So, I asked the teacher why? Why do you think our schools are the best? "Your schools look like and act like a family." She said. Adding, "Everybody works together and works with the kids. It is how education should be, and this is the first place we've seen [it] so pronounced."
I admit, that statement endeared me to our ten guests. But beyond that, it was their willingness to "jump right in and help" as 3rd-grade teacher, Carolyn Otterman put it that earned my respect. Also, I found their insatiable curiosity about all aspects of our educational processes really uplifting. They care about the entire education of a child, yet, they got really excited when they got to talk "shop" with content-specific teachers--very much like us.
So, why were they here? WLPS is adding a Chinese language program in our Early Childhood Center and Elementary School next year. We will introduce the language and the culture to our students. As such, I wanted to better understand it. I also wanted the individuals who will work with our students and our staff to better understand the community of Whitmore Lake. Thus, a partnership was formed. Our district arranged to provide mentor teachers. I told my staff, the mentorship could be as easy as simply letting the guests from China watch you work. Or, it could be as complex as the friendships you form with your peers at WLPS. Turned out to be the latter.
The visit ended evening; they were my guests at our band concert. Our students from grades 5 through 12 put on a great show. The guest teachers kept commenting to me how instrumental band is not taught in schools in China and how talented our teachers and staff were. Then, when Alaina DiDio sang "Moon River" with our WLHS band accompanying her, they were beside themselves. She performed a wonderful version, and it was a fitting end to time well spent.
I started my visit with these teachers telling them how proud I was to be a "Trojan." After that performance they were telling me I hit the nail on the head (one of several idioms they learned from my staff.)
I'm looking forward to continuing this partnership and would love to introduce more of our students to a new culture--especially one that is so respectful of the needs of children.
Indeed, it is another great day to be a Trojan.
You can enjoy more photos from the visit HERE.