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Newtown Visited By Two Chinese Educators



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Newtown Visited By Two Chinese Educators

By Eliza Hallabeck

Middle Gate Elementary School served as a home school to Professor Haimei Wang last week during her stay in Connecticut. Ms Haimei was not the only Chinese educator in Newtown last week; Zhang Zen also called Sandy Hook School his home school for the week.

Host families in Newtown offered their homes to both Ms Haimei and Mr Zhang. Ms Haimei said the host families she stayed with brought her on multiple trips, including visiting Yale University in New Haven, and visiting Western Connecticut State University. Ms Haimei said her trip was scheduled through the state’s Department of Education.

“Everyone is so helpful. The teaching staff here is very friendly,” said Ms Haimei.

During her stay at Middle Gate, Ms Haimei visited every classroom and witnessed multiple different classroom activities. In China, Ms Haimei teaches college level English. Both Ms Haimei and Mr Zen visited other schools in the district. On Wednesday, October 7, Mr Zen visited Hawley School, where children of one of the families that hosted his stay attend.

Sandy Hook School Principal Donna Pagé said it was wonderful to have Mr Zen visit the school.

“We really enjoyed him,” said Ms Pagé, “and the students did too.”

One activity that struck her was a writing activity, because, she said, students in China learn more through memorizing stories than from writing them. Ms Haimei said teaching techniques she witnessed like the writing activity is an example of things from which visiting educators can learn. 

Ms Haimei also shared information about Chinese classrooms with the students as she visited the classrooms.

“They just say, ‘Wow’ when I show them pictures from the Chinese classrooms,” said Ms Haimei. Classes in China, she said, can have up to 50 students, and students have a two- to three-hour recess during the day.

This is Ms Haimei’s second trip to the United States. In 2001 she visited Texas during another exchange program.

Another difference Ms Haimei said she saw between Chinese and American classrooms was, “Well, in China, students are very respectful to the teachers.”

“So many new things,” Ms Haimei said about her stay, “new experiences, and it has been lovely.”

Middle Gate Elementary School lead teacher Mrs Beers said it has been an amazing experience “just having her here. She has been an inspiration to our children, because she has been telling them how Chinese children do a lot more recitation.”

Middle Gate Elementary School Principal Judith Liestman said having Ms Haimei visit the school was fascinating.

“We are very excited about her visit,” said Ms Liestman.

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