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A nice blog from a Mandarin immersion school that opens next year

November 26, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 9.51.16 AMRedwood City, Calif. is launching a Mandarin immersion school next year. They’ve got a nice blog up talking about why it’s a good thing for the school, the families and the district.  Worth taking a look at it if you’re trying to sell your program.

MIIRWC –  Mandarin Immersion in Redwood City, serving Redwood City and surrounding neighborhoods.

Top 10 Reasons Mandarin Immersion at John Gill is a Great Opportunity

Attracting Excellence Leads to Rising Tides.  Mandarin Immersion Programs are unique. They tend to attract parents and students from both within and outside the district who are committed to academic excellence.  An influx of these students will likely positively impact the academic reputation and performance of John Gill Elementary.A Warm Welcome.  As of now, a number of families in the neighborhood of John Gill, send their children to other schools. With news of an MI program, neighbors are responding positively and recognize that the program could potentially turn the neighborhood school around. More importantly, the Redwood City School District strongly supports dual language immersion as a robust strategy for learning academics, culture, and language.

Diversity. The addition of the MI program will enhance the diversity of the student population at John Gill. Students of the MI Program will play and interact with the rest of the student body outside of classes taught in Mandarin, such as PE, Music, recess, and lunch. Everyone at the school will benefit from exposure to different cultures, languages, and perspectives.

Solid Infrastructure. The historic campus is situated on Eagle Hill, mostly surrounded by single family homes.  Several beautiful redwood trees shade the campus with plenty of outdoor space, sports fields, and playgrounds for students to explore. It is across the street from a big park and community center, and a short distance to stores like Whole Foods, Safeway, and downtown. You can also check real estate listings to get a sense of the surrounding neighborhood.

Fresh Leadership. The school has a new principal, Katherine Rivera, and assistant principal (which appears to be a newly added position), Nick G. Fanourgiakis, both of whom have a great deal of experience and background in bilingual education. The principal lives in the neighborhood and sends her children to the Adelante Spanish Immersion Program. In talking with her, it’s obvious Principal Rivera is invested in and committed to the improving the quality of education at John Gill and Redwood City Schools overall.

Facebook Really Likes Us. Redwood City School district received a $1.06 million grant from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Part of the grant supports a revitalization project for John Gill with the support of Innovate Public Schools. There is a design committee that has been formed through this project and parents of prospective MI students are already invited to participate in re-designing the school.

Experienced Advisors. Between Dr. John Baker, Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Linda Montes, Director of English Learner Services, and Dr. Danni Tsai, Educational Services Coordinator of San Mateo County, are decades of experience and expertise in education, teaching, and facilitating the complex process of starting a new immersion program. Drs. Montes and Baker were instrumental in initiating and administering the successful Adelante Spanish Immersion School. Dr. Tsai helped create the first public school Mandarin Dual Immersion Program in Santa Clara County and at one time owned a successful private Mandarin Immersion school. Just hearing them discuss what is important to implement for this MI program, you immediately get the sense we are in good hands.

Great People. Seriously. Throughout the process of starting this program, we have met smart, enthusiastic, hardworking parents, school administrators, and school board members. Over 180 families have shown an interest in the program and over 30 families have directly offered to volunteer time and energy. This type of collaborative hands-on approach will not only make the program a success but also make it great community to join.

Your Voice Counts. Ordinarily, parents do not get much say in their children’s school programs.  For the MI Program, we have the opportunity to work with the school on decisions relating to after school care, tutoring, and teacher candidate qualities. To join this effort, please sign up for the MIIRWC (Mandarin Immersion in Redwood City) Parents Group.

Bilingualism. Last, but not least, your child is going to be proficient in Chinese and English! Even for families with zero experience with the Chinese language, there are many ways parents can helpchildren with homework and support them in school. Children can adapt to their new “target language” quickly (often within months). The entire family can share the benefits of learning a new language.
Sooner than you think, they will be able to help you translate this:  要学中文!
Into this… I want to learn Chinese!

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