The Medfield China Exchange Initiative was founded as a result of the beginning of our new Chinese language program at Medfield High School. In the 2007-2008 school year Ms. Maura Batts conducted a sabbatical year of study of Chinese language and culture. In 2008 Medfield High School began offering an introductory Chinese language program to students. This interest in Chinese language study led to the building of a relationship with the Bengbu Middle School #6 which has a keen interest in exposing students to English study.
The initiative is a partnership with the Bengbu Middle School #6 which is located in Bengbu, Anhui, China and the Medfield Public Schools, which is located in Medfield, Massachusetts.
The initiative would not be possible without the support of the China Exchange Initiative of Newton, MA. Significant financial support for the initiative has been provided by the Medfield Coalition for Public Education, the school CSA's, the Medfield Lions Club and Needham Bank. Most importantly the initiative would not be possible without the vision and commitment of Principal Chen and the staff of the Bengbu Middle School #6.
Goals and Objectives of the Exchange Partnership
The partnership between the Bengbu #6 Middle School and the Medfield Public Schools provides a unique opportunity for education of Medfield students and the greater community. The relationship between the schools is strong and is built upon a desire to improve education of the children in the respective communities.
For Medfield there are several key benefits of the partnership.
- To provide students with the opportunity to learn about global education and the important relationship between China and the United States.
- To expand the ability of students to learn the Chinese language.
- To expose students to the rich cultural and social diversity of China.
- To provide students the opportunity to learn the history and current condition of China.
The Medfield Public Schools are committed to an improvement plan that will achieve the goals and objectives of the partnership through a planned effort to make improvements to the existing curriculum including:
- The expansion of the current high school Chinese language program to a sequential, sustainable Chinese language programs in grades 7-12.
- Development of an articulated curriculum of Chinese studies in grades 6-12 through the language, social studies, art and home economics departments.
- Create opportunities for the respective teaching staff of the Bengbu Middle School #6 and the Medfield Public Schools to participate in joint professional development planning to create units of instruction.
- Utilize technology to create meaningful opportunities for direct student learning and interaction. This can include for example email, videoconferencing, pod casts, wikis and blogging.
- Development of a continuing student and teacher exchange program.
Partnership Background and Activities to Date
Principal Chen Visits Medfield
The Medfield-Bengbu Exchange Initiative began in February 2009 with the arrival of Principal Chen from the Bengbu Middle School #6. Bengbu is located in Anhui Province approximately 3 hours by train from the City of Shanghai. Principal Chen supervises a middle that contains grades 7-9 with approximately 2400 students.
Principal Chen arrived in Medfield on February 28th and was hosted at a National Basketball Association game by Celtics President and Medfield resident Rich Gotham and his family. On the second day of the visit Medfield was hit by a major New England snow storm which forced the closing of the schools. Instead of attending classes as was planned, Principal Chen was introduced to Medfield history by attending a tour with Medfield High School teacher and Town Historian Richard DeSorgher. Later that evening the host family of Tim and Linda Bonfatti organized an open house reception that was attended by many of the members of the community.
On Tuesday the snow was cleared away and Principal Chen was welcomed by students from both the high school and middle schools at an assembly. The high school band played both the United States and Chinese national anthems to open the welcoming ceremony. Students made presentations to welcome Principal Chen which included the topics of the importance of China, the daily life of a Medfield student and a bilingual Chinese and English presentation of gifts by middle school students. That evening Principal Chen was welcomed at a large reception which was attended by members of the various government departments, school administrators and teachers, and parents. The highlight of the evening was the presentation and cutting of a cake that symbolized the connection between the United States and China.
During the week Principal Chen was able to attend classes at each school building in Medfield. During these times he was able to witness firsthand the classroom teaching and programs available to students. He also had numerous opportunities to meet with students and staff. Principal Chen participated in question and answer sessions with the teaching staff and students. He was able to present information about the state of education in China and answer specific questions about Bengbu Middle School # 6.
Superintendent Maguire Visits Bengbu Middle School #6
Superintendent Robert Maguire arrived in Bengbu, China on April 20, 2009 and was greeted with an assembly of all 2400 students during a dramatic flag raising ceremony. During the week long visit to Bengbu numerous dinner receptions were held with members of the teaching staff and important government officials. During the day Mr. Maguire was able to witness all aspects of the instructional program at the Bengbu Middle School #6. He attended mathematics classes and visited all areas of the school facilities. Mr. Maguire was able to observe the instructional techniques of the teachers and freely interacted with students and teachers. A meeting with teachers was held to discuss techniques for instructing students in the area of mathematics. Another meeting with the Chinese teachers provided Mr. Maguire with an understanding of the importance of idioms in the instruction of students. Mr. Maguire was able to see students engaged in numerous activities including sports, games, music, art, and paper cutting. In addition, Mr. Maguire had the opportunity to visit two primary schools and the #2 High School. Several opportunities were provided for Mr. Maguire to engage in question and answer sessions with students. A tour of Bengbu was provided so that Mr. Maguire was able to understand the history and current situation of the city of Bengbu. Mr. Maguire also travelled to the area of Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) and the village of Hongcun on an overnight trip to experience the beautiful mountain area in Anhui Provence.
Fall 2009 Teacher Exchange
In the fall of 2009 the schools exchanged teachers for the first time. Mr. Richard DeSorgher a history teacher travelled to Bengbu. Ms. Li Hong an English teacher and Ms. Huang Jianmei a mathematics teacher travelled to Medfield. The exchange of teachers was for a six week period with the teachers being housed with local host families.
Ms. Li Hong was assigned to Medfield High School with her partner teacher Ms. Ann Marie Sabra. On a daily basis she attended English classes and observed the methods of instruction. Ms. Huang Jianmei was partnered with Ms. Erin Carnes in the mathematics department at the Blake Middle School. Ms. Huang attended mathematics classes on a daily basis. In addition, both of the exchange teachers attended the Chinese language class daily. The teachers developed lessons for instruction in calligraphy, cooking and conducted lessons in both regular classes as well as an after school program at the middle school. The teachers made numerous presentations to various groups and organizations in the Medfield community and provided information about China and Chinese education. During their stay the teachers were able to visit Washington D.C., New York City, Maine and Cape Cod.
Mr. Richard DeSorgher was assigned to teach English classes on daily basis during his stay at the Bengbu Middle School #6. He developed instruction related to American life and answered students questions about student life in the United States. During his stay he was able to meet with many of the teaching staff and share ideas about the similarities and differences in the Chinese and American educational systems. During his time in Bengbu Mr. DeSorgher was able to visit Nanjing, Huangshan and Qufu the site of the birth of Confucius.