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Yu Ming’s Oakland, CA Mandarin immersion program now has 550 students, six Kindergarten classes

October 26, 2022

[Note: This is the school featured in the New Yorker article that was published last week.]

Yu Ming Charter School was founded in 2011 in Oakland, California and was the first Mandarin immersion charter in the state.

The tuition-free public charter school is open to all residents of California and serves students from Kindergarten through 8th grade. It is ranked #7 Elementary School and #2 Elementary Charter School in California by U.S. News and was a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence and a 2020 California Distinguished School.

Last year Yu Ming leapt from three Kindergarten classes to six, and continued to field six classes for the 2022-2023 school year. In a release, the school said “These additional classes allow Yu Ming to serve more Alameda County families, and most importantly, provide access to more historically underserved families than ever before–a crucial cornerstone of our commitment to offer a transformative public education.”

This year the school also created a Dean of Student Culture, a new position created to help address the social-emotional needs that came out of the COVID pandemic, especially with the school’s youngest students.

Chief Academic Officer Celia Pascual explained in the release, “When our students came back in person full-time last fall, we quickly noticed that this group of young learners needed more support with social skills. Pre-COVID, those skills would have been learned in preschool, playdates, or simply by interacting freely with other children and adults.”

After 11 years, the school now has graduates who come back to work in its summer program when it offers a two-week Summer Boost program that provides extra support in English and Mandarin for students. New to the program this year was a team of nine volunteer alumni.

“I miss Yu Ming and I like working with children,” said Lynnsy ‘20. Alumni from Yu Ming’s four cohorts, 2019 through 2022, volunteered. “I used to have trouble and now I’m really good at English so I like helping other students,” said Ket ’19.

The school collaborates with other Mandarin immersion programs across the country to share expertise and develop innovative practices.

Each spring Yu Ming’s 7th graders participate in a two-week study tour to China. In addition to cultural and historical study around China, students spend five days with an innovative bilingual school in Ningbo, China. Using their Chinese skills in an immersive way, students develop a deeper understanding and connection with Chinese culture.

During their time in China, students:

  • Participate in Chinese middle school classes
  • Experience dorm life
  • Collaborate with Chinese 7th graders in a design-and-build challenge
  • Stay with host families to experience Chinese home life.
  • Engage in community service for a local village school

The school has three campuses:

Main Campus (Lower School): 1086 Alcatraz Avenue | Oakland, CA 94608
MLK Jr. Campus (Upper school): 675 41st St | Oakland, CA 94609
Carolyn Campus: Kindergarten – 2nd grade, 16244 Carolyn St | San Leandro, CA 94578

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