August 31 2013

A dozen Chinese students scheduled to join Rockford, East Kentwood high school classrooms


 This fall, Rockford and East Kentwood high schools students will share a classroom with visiting Chinese students, exchanging knowledge about their culture, customs and traditions.

The school districts will have six students each, plus a teacher through a partnership with the Weiming Education Group in Beijing, to provide a cultural immersion opportunity.

The districts will be receiving $10,000 per student, $3,000 more than their state per-pupil funding.

But Rockford Superintendent Mike Shibler said the number of Chinese students arriving in August is significantly lower than originally expected - 20 for Rockford and 25 at Kentwood. He said Chinese recruiters, working independent form Weiming, placed some of their students at high schools in other parts of the country.

(from left) Lin Hao, CEO and president of the Weiming Education Group, and Frank Feng, interpreter and WEG associate, listen during a Dec. 3, 2013 meeting to create a cultural immersion opportunity between China and West Michigan schools at the Kent Intermediate School District Conference Center. Rockford and Kentwood schools will have six Chinese students each at their high schools this fall.


Related: 45 Chinese students to spend year at Rockford, East Kentwood high schools

"We are going to move forward in a proactive way to make this a successful pilot," said Shibler, who said he was disappointed about the change in enrollment. "The U.S. and China are the major superpowers on the world stage for years to come. It is important for both countries to put children in learning environments to learn from and understand each other and develop a mutual respect."

Weiming, which manages approximately 30 schools across China, met with West Michigan school leaders last December about the benefits to both sides of a partnership.
The Chinese students will complete at least one and preferably two years of their high school education in West Michigan to help prepare them culturally as well as academically for successful entry into college.

Related: West Michigan school leaders work on plan to bring Chinese students here to live, study

Prior to Weiming's December U.S. visit, Kent and Ottawa ISD school leaders accepted an invitation to China in November to better understand the quality of Weiming schools and the academic achievements of their students.

Local students and teachers will have an opportunity to travel to China and spend time at the Weiming schools. China sends more of its international students to the U.S. than any other country.

“This is an exciting time for Kentwood schools because it is marking the beginning of expanding our global education, “ said incoming Kentwood Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff, who said the district already has students from 63 countries who speak 71 different languages.

“Any time you bring a global perspective into your school, you’ve definitely shrunk the world for your students.”

He said Weiming paid for their principal, John Keenoy, to go to China for two weeks to meet with the student candidates.

Rockford, which offers Mandarin Chinese immersion program, school staff interviewed more than 50 candidates via Skype. Both districts had access to student transcripts and will place them accordingly.

The students will be residing with host families in the community.


Author:Monica Scott Reference: