Sage Creek Elementary in Nebo School District was selected to host three native Mandarin-speaking teachers from China for the 2013-14 school year as part of the Chinese Guest Teacher Program, a collaboration of the College Board and China’s Confucius Institute Headquarters/Hanban. The program places visiting teachers from China in U.S. elementary, middle and high schools for one to three years, in order to jump-start or expand school Chinese language and culture programs. For the 2013-14 school year, An Yang, Li Shu, and Shen Jia are among 187 Chinese guest teachers, including 129 new arrivals, who will be teaching at schools across 30 states.

Sage Creek welcomed their guest teachers on Friday, August 10th.  The teachers are currently staying with host families in the immersion program until school begins. An Yang, who will be teaching 1st grade, is from Sichuan province and has been teaching elementary school for four years there.  She is engaged and will be married when she returns to China. Li Shu, who will be teaching 2nd grade, is from Panjin, Liaoning Province, China.  She taught 1-6 grade English in Children Potentiality Training School from 2009 to 2010, and Chinese and English in Dalian Ocean University from 2010 to 2013. She loves traveling, cooking, drawing, music, movies, dancing, and doing housework. Shen Jia, who will be teaching 3rd grade, is from Zhenjiang, an old and beautiful city in the eastern part of China. She has been teaching for nearly eight years in a middle school. She enjoys art paper-cutting, drawing and traveling.

Brenda Burr, principal of Sage Creek Elementary, expressed enthusiasm for the Chinese Immersion program. “Watching our young students participate in the Chinese Dual Immersion program has been an amazing experience. We are thrilled to welcome our guest teachers. They have matched our excitement as they eagerly await the opportunity to work with our faculty and students. The whole school and not just the immersion students will benefit from this cognitive and cultural sharing opportunity, as we learn from each other.”

“As I extend a warm welcome to our guest teachers, I also want to thank them for helping to bring an understanding of Chinese language and culture to thousands of American students,” said College Board President David Coleman.  “This program increases the global awareness of our students and strengthens the ties of friendship and collaboration forged by educators and school communities in both countries.”

Participation in the Chinese Guest Teacher Program has grown since the first group of 37 teachers arrived in January 2007. To date, over 800 guest teachers have served in the program, reaching over 100,000 students. The program represents a unique opportunity for students and educators to learn Chinese and learn about China from a native speaker. Sage Creek is beginning their third year in the Chinese Dual Immersion program. Guest teachers assist with curriculum and materials development and serve as a cultural resource for other subject areas and for cultural enrichment activities school wide.

Prior to their selection, guest teachers underwent a rigorous screening process and were interviewed by a team from the College Board and the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL) to assess teaching skills, adaptability and English proficiency.

Confucius Institute Headquarters organizes a six-week training before the teachers leave China, provides the teachers with international transportation and partially subsidizes the guest teachers’ salaries to lessen the costs to host schools and districts. NCSSFL collaborates with the College Board to provide training and support for the teachers, and the Institute of International Education serves as the visa sponsor for the program.