Earlier this month, the school district was informed by the Asia Society that it would be receiving $30,000 of the $39,000 in funding it applied for through the society’s continuation grant to be used in Medfield for expansion of its Chinese program.
Superintendent of Schools Bob Maguire said the district applied for the grant at the beginning of the school year, after receiving $10,000 from the society a year ago.
“[The Asia Society] awarded us about $9,000 at the beginning of this year but there was another portion of the grant, beyond just the regular continuation funding, that we could submit a larger request [of funding] and we did,” Maguire said. “We requested a total of about $39,000 and we received over $30,000 from the Asia Society.”
The money will be used to expand Medfield’s Chinese program into the town’s elementary schools.
“That’s very nice [news] and it helps us with professional development,” Maguire said. “It helps us with materials, helps us for funding the expansion of the program. It’s very good news for us.”
In addition to receiving additional funding for its Chinese program, Maguire said the district was recently recognized by the Asia Society at an annual conferencing in Washington D.C. for being a model program in the country.
“We were really pleased with that,” Maguire said.
Medfield was recognized, along with more than 100 other elementary, middle and high schools around the country, at the National Chinese Language Conference held in Washington D.C. from April 12-14. Maguire added while the recognition is nice for the district, the focus remains on a much larger goal.
“It’s part of the effort to continue to expand the language and culture program,” Maguire said. … “It’s nice recognition to be with a number of other schools around the country. It’s all part of the larger vision we have in the district about really making our kids better prepared for the world that’s changing out there.”
Maguire said the district’s language and culture program focuses on making students more knowledgeable in global geography and the culture of the world we live in today. That instruction includes language and understanding of what’s going on in other countries.
“That’s all part of what has been approved in the [the school] budget, which is the expansion of the language program into the elementary schools,” Maguire said.
Nationally, according to Maguire, Medfield will join “about 15 percent” of the country’s public elementary schools that “actually have language programs.”
“Quite honestly, that is just atrocious,” Maguire said of the lack of language programs in elementary schools around the country. “If you think about the world that this generation is going to be entering into … it is much different than generations before.”
Which is why the Medfield School District has made a serious commitment to its language program and will be expanding it into the elementary schools.
“[Medfield is making] this kind of commitment to something that I think is very valuable for preparing kids for their futures and not our past,” Maguire said.
The superintendent added that in terms of the big picture, the district’s language program goes beyond the district's Chinese Initiative.
“We are expanding the Spanish language program and looking at how we teach geography and how we teach about other parts of the world and other cultures because kids need to be prepared for that,” Maguire said.
To learn more about the Asia Society’s annual National Chinese Language Conference, click here.
About Medfield’s Chinese Initiative Program
Medfield’s Chinese Initiative Program was founded in 2008 after Medfield High School began offering an introductory course in Chinese language to students. As a result of the interest the language program had around the district, Medfield built a relationship with Bengbu Middle School #6 in Bengbu, China and created a partnership between the two schools, which has become known as the Chinese Initiative Program. The program has included faculty, administration and student exchanges to China and Medfield. Students from Bengbu visited Medfield in 2010 and in return, Medfield students visited China this past October. To learn more about the program, click here.
More News on Medfield’s Chinese Initiative Program
The following is a roundup of Medfield Patch articles related to the school district’s Chinese Initiative.