Chinese principals study West Shore ways

Chinese principals study West Shore ways

Principal Rick Fleming addresses a Chinese delegation of principals through a translator Tuesday.

Emily Dubec-Hunter, Staff Writer

While Senior Projects, kickball games and students taking notes in classes are common occurrences on campus, those activities would be quite foreign to students in China.

Through an agreement set up between the Head of the Department  of Education and Interdisciplinary Studies at Florida Institute of Technology, Dr. Laslo V. Baksay and the Chinese government, 28 principals — all men — and two women from the Chinese equivilent of the Board of Education visited from the Jiangxi Province to learn about the United States education system.

“It’s not because the American System is better,” said Theresa Regan, administrative secretary for the Department of Education and Interdisciplinary Studies. “They have very good schools programs as well.”

However, their programs don’t include extracurriculars or religious instruction found at schools such as Holy Trinity, which they visited on Monday. Students in China attend school strictly to learn about academics. There are no clubs, sports or arts programs involved.

“Ranking is very important in China,” Regan said. “So they’re very surprised at what we’re letting our children do.”

The two members of their Board of Education are interested not only in the way the U.S. teaches students, but how the schools are run. They’re more interested in the budgets, assessment systems and security.

“Their schools are just now starting to see students bringing knives and guns to school,” Regan said. “While we’ve already had these problems. They’re looking into how we’ve been dealing with them.”

After congregating in the library to watch a video presentation and listen to Principal Rick Fleming talk about West Shore’s programs Tuesday, the principals broke into groups to tour the school and  met again in the music room to listen to a jazz band performance.

Sophomore Rachel Ho and senior Michelle Chin were pulled from class to help translate for the principals.

“I’ve helped translate for them and answered a few of their questions,” Ho said. “They’re nice, and seem interested in our school system.”

In February, an engineering group came from the Jiangxi Province, but this is the first educational group that has come over. Through the exchange program, American educators may be able to travel to China to see their education systems as well.

“We haven’t sent anyone yet,” Regan said about sending principals to China. “Just vice presidents and presidents of the program. There are no plans as of now, but there may be. We’re just a small entity covering education in the whole program.”

FIT is the only school to have set up this agreement for education with China and is in charge of the educational division of the exchange.

The Chinese principals also have visited Holy Trinity, Melbourne Central Catholic and Satellite High School. They plan to visit Florida Air Academy, Odyssey, Rockledge High School and Palm Bay High School later in the  week.