Wardlaw-Hartridge School Accepted as Member of Asia Society Confucius Classrooms Network

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Mrs. Hua Liu, Chinese teacher at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School, teaches a class of seventh grade students during an introductory level lesson. (Photo by Rudy Brandl of Fanwood)

EDISON – In recognition of its potential as a model Chinese language program for the U.S., strong local leadership, demonstrated commitment to international exchange and collaboration, and global vision for the future, The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison has been accepted as a member of the third and final cohort of schools in the Asia Society Confucius Classrooms Network. This national network of 100 exemplary Chinese language programs is being developed over a three-year period. With this third cohort, the Network represents almost 25,000 Chinese language learners in more than 100 schools in 27 states and the District of Columbia; public schools, independent schools, and charter schools; elementary, middle, and high schools; and urban, rural, and suburban schools.

Each Asia Society Confucius Classroom will be matched with a partner school in China to enhance opportunities for language learning and to provide students, teachers, and administrators with opportunities to conduct exchanges and joint projects. The Network is linked through an online community where teachers will share resources and best practices in an effort to build models for the field.

“There are two aspects of this program that I find especially exciting,” said Mr. Andrew Webster, Head of School. “The first is the opportunity to forge a partnership with a school in China and the support for travel and learning experiences for faculty and students. The second is the leadership role of developing a model Chinese program and sharing what we learn with other schools. We look forward to working in partnership with the Asia Society and all the members of the Confucius Classrooms Network and believe the benefits to our students and teachers will be tremendous.”

“Wardlaw-Hartridge’s mission statement and core values clearly convey our desire to prepare students to lead and succeed in a world of global interconnections,” added Mrs. Rhona Eserner, Upper School Head. “As students move through our school, they learn about global issues related to poverty, disease, economic development, human rights, and environmental stewardship. Membership in the Confucius Classrooms Network supports our school’s mission and will afford us amazing 21st century learning opportunities.”

The Wardlaw-Hartridge School already has expanded its Chinese language program from high school to middle school and plans to offer levels up to Advanced Placement. Wardlaw-Hartridge will participate collaboratively with its Chinese partner school in various projects addressing global issues and concerns. One initiative under immediate consideration is a Green Map project in which Wardlaw-Hartridge and its partner school will identify and map green living, ecological, social and cultural resources in our communities. In the second year, Wardlaw-Hartridge plans to put its new partnership into action by participating in the National Association of Independent Schools’ Challenge 20/20 program.

“As a Chinese teacher, I’ve always been very proud of our students’ enthusiasm and energy in learning the language and culture,” added Mrs. Hua Liu, who is teaching Chinese classes to students from seventh grade through high school at Wardlaw-Hartridge. “Being accepted into the network will greatly help us to move the program to a higher and more sustainable level.”

“As this partnership grows and strengthens, it will give our students and Mrs. Liu many opportunities to form internet-based collaborations on topics and projects of interest to both schools,” Mrs. Eserner said. “As members of this network, our students, teachers, and administrators expect to be visiting China and spending time at our partnership school. We will also be offering our new Chinese friends the opportunity to visit us in Edison.”

As part of its continuing effort to help American students become more globally competent, Asia Society has been supporting the development of Chinese language programs in schools across the United States. This work includes the Chinese Language Initiatives e-newsletter, the annual National Chinese Language Conference co-organized with the College Board, which will be held in Washington, DC April 12-14, 2012, and the development of resources for the field, including the “Learning Chinese in American Schools” DVD, the two “Meeting the Challenge” reports on Chinese language teacher preparation and a new initiative on “Chinese Language Learning in the Early Grades.”

The Confucius Classrooms Network has been established with the support of an International Expert Advisory Committee and in partnership with Hanban, the affiliate of the Chinese Ministry of Education that supports the teaching and learning of Chinese language and culture in all corners of the world. The Network is more than just an attempt to recognize excellence in Chinese language teaching – it is the beginning of an ongoing process of field building with the goal of establishing high quality, sustainable Chinese language programs in all regions of the U.S., and one important step toward strengthening Americans’ understanding of China.

Asia Society designed the selection process for the 100 U.S. schools and districts and will assist them in creating linkages with schools in China. Asia Society also convenes an annual meeting in conjunction with the National Chinese Language Conference, provides support through e-newsletters and professional development seminars and collects data to assess progress.

More information about the Asia Society Confucius Classrooms Network and all of Asia Society’s Chinese Language Initiatives is available at asiasociety.org/chinese.


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