Butler Academy hosts second Mandarin Exchange teacher

(Left to right): Butler Academy’s new Mandarin exchange teacher Zhen Yuan and his Butler Academy mentor
teacher Zhengyang Yu. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Butler Academy welcomed Zhen Yuan from Yuci, China, to our school and community this month. As an exchange teacher, Zhen will teach Mandarin to scholars in each of the school’s K-5 grades and join his mentor teacher Zhengyang Yu, a full-time member of the Butler Academy faculty. Yu is in her second year at Butler Academy and teaches grades 5 – 7.

“All scholars are exposed to Mandarin weekly,” said Butler Academy President Jerome Reyes. “Through an immersive language

experience, our scholars not only learn to read and write characters, but they also learn to appreciate another cultural point of view. As

they explore their teacher’s native culture through music, food, crafts, and holidays, like the Chinese New Year, the hope is that our scholars begin to develop the skill of bridging cultural gaps very early on. This idea fits perfectly with our Academy’s emphasis on social and emotional learning and cultural awareness, and is yet another way we are committed to a whole-child education. By continuing the

coursework throughout our scholar’s K-12 education, we also expect many will be able to earn college credit through an AP Mandarin course by the time they walk across our graduation stage,” Reyes added.

“Exposing Butler Academy students to Mandarin Chinese starting with Kindergarten has become a point of pride for the BA Family. When one of the many “good morning” greetings our scholars hear when they arrive at school is “Zao shang hao,” we emphasize in word and deed that we value cultural awareness and that we take thoughtful whole-child education seriously,” said Butler Academy Provost Nateisha Taylor.

Yuan’s fully-funded one-year appointment at Butler academy was made possible through a competitive award by the American Councils for International Education. Butler Academy was one of 16 schools nationwide to receive the award in 2023, which was even more competitive this year than last. This is the second year that Butler Academy has been supported by the program.

The Department of State’s Teachers of Critical Language Program (TCLP) is designed to increase the study and acquisition of important world languages in U.S. Schools. This program enables primary and secondary schools to strengthen their teaching of critical languages by bringing teachers to the U.S. to teach their native Darlington County’s ONLY Free K-12 Public Charter School Arabic and Chinese language for an academic year. Launched in 2006, TCLP has launched or expanded more than 220 critical language programs in K-12 schools throughout the United States.

In addition to receiving a native speaker of Mandarin or Arabic to teach language classes, students, teachers, and community members have the opportunity to learn about the TCLP exchange teachers’ home cultures, expanding their understanding of the world and preparing them for study and work in an interconnected world. Through TCLP, many schools establish lasting bonds with their exchange teachers’ home schools abroad.

Author: Stephan Drew

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