Local educators to study Chinese education; Logan to offer the language
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Four local educators-- three from the Logan County School System and one from the Russellville City Schools-- will study Chinese education where it happens as the Logan County schools prepare to offer the study of Chinese as a foreign language option.
Dr. Jianliang Wang, associate professor in Western Kentucky University’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research, has received a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad grant for a study of China’s educational system. Dr. Wang will lead 16 public school teachers and administrators from Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and Florida on a trip to China in July.
This year’s trip will include three representatives from Logan County schools - Mike Hurt, associate superintendent/instructional supervisor; Tonya Epley, middle grades social studies teacher; and Larry Michael Hoots, world history teacher - as well asSusan McCloud, supervisor for curriculum and assessment for Russellville Independent Schools.
At schools in Beijing, Xian and Chengdu, they will look at education in four core areas: civilization, history and geography; education and language; government and political, social and economic development; and population and social welfare. They will spend four weeks during the month of July in China.
Last summer, the assistant superintendent of Logan County schools, Janet Hurt, traveled to China on one of Dr. Wang’s trips. With Dr. Wang’s encouragement, Logan County decided to add Chinese to its curriculum starting this fall and applied for three Chinese teachers through the WKU’s new Confucius Institute.
“This project gives teachers an opportunity to see how schools in China operate and to share our experiences with schools there,” Dr. Wang said. “It’s a win-win situation.”
Hoots said he already teaches a unit on China in his world history classes at LCHS, but he can see that expanding through this international and cultural exchange. "One of my goals is to set up an ePALS system so that our students and some in China can get to know each other's cultures," said Hoots, who is also an athletic coach at LCHS.
The $79,120 grant is one of 29 Fulbright-Hays grants for group projects abroad, a program which aims to support overseas projects in modern foreign languages, with the goal of integrating international studies into U.S. school curriculums. This is Dr. Wang’s fourth Fulbright-Hays award, and the seventh Fulbright group project abroad program to operate under his direction.
When the group returns, these educators will use what they have learned to create a high quality Chinese curriculum at their schools. Marion and Nelson County educators who participated in one of Dr. Wang’s previous Fulbright-Hays programs returned to Kentucky to develop the state’s inaugural Chinese programs.
Others participating in the trip to China this year include Dr. Jim Berger and Cindy Lou Ehresman from WKU; Nicole Clark from Warren East High School; Jessica Forest from John Hardin High School; William Jeffrey Hodges III from South Salem (Va.) High School; Jillian Carol Ann Lewis-Darden, Michael Torrington, Michael Williams and Angela Cherio from Baltimore (Md.) Schools; Bradley Kraft from Blacksburg (Va.) High School; and Jane Phelps from Orange County (Fla.) Schools.
As an educator, Dr. Wang brings outstanding credentials to the program. Dr. Wang has worked for the Chinese Ministry of Education, UNESCO in Paris and the World Bank in Washington, D.C. He was the first executive director of the USA-CHINA Teacher Education Consortium, headquartered at WKU from 1987-1989. He has worked for nearly 20 years to help foster an atmosphere supportive of Asian Studies in general, and Chinese language study in particular, at the university and in the region. WKU hosts the Chinese Flagship program, serves as the host for the first Confucius Institute in Kentucky and recently created an Asian Studies major.
“About 1.3 billion people speak Chinese and it’s going to be the language of the future,” Dr. Wang said. “It is vital for our students to learn the Chinese language. With China’s economy booming and with WKU awarded the Flagship program and Confucius Institute, this is the perfect time for us to take another group of educators to China.”

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