Germantown welcomes Chinese administrator

Program helps both districts see what works best

Nov. 4, 2012

Germantown - The Germantown School District welcomed Chinese School Administrator Pei Hongxia last month so she could observe the district's educational system and report back to her colleagues in China.

Hongxia spent the week visiting various schools throughout the district. She stayed with Superintendent Susan Borden as part of a sister school agreement with the school Shijiazhuang, where Borden spent time in April. Through the Administrator Exchange Delegation, Borden lived with Hongxia and was able to observe the teaching methods in rural and urban schools in China.

In exchange, Borden hosted Hongxia, who spent time observing both the administration and teaching sides of the district. On Oct. 29, she sat in on various classes in all grade levels at Rockfield Elementary School including music and early childhood special education programs. On Oct. 30, she attended classes at the middle school level and Oct. 31, she shadowed a bilingual Germantown High School student.

Hongxia was also introduced to Germantown's engineering classes.

When Borden returned from her trip to China, she said there were more similarities between the educational systems than differences. During her visit, Hongxia was able to see if that sentiment holds true.

Fostering creativity

"We talked about everything from real time to students coming to and from school and classroom methodology," Borden said. "There are so many similarities to the way our system works that we often say that if we take the best of both, we would have the perfect system."

Via Professor Lijing Sun, a translator from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Hongxia said she is interested in seeing the kind of activities implemented in the classroom. She hopes to learn alternative ways to meet the needs of students, and help push students to be more creative.

"They are looking at how to teach creativity," Borden said.

One difference between the two school systems is recess. In Germantown, the students are able to come up with their own activities during recess. In China, recess is structured and led by a teacher.

"Neither is right, they are just different," Borden said.

Could lead to student, teacher exchanges

Finding similarities and differences, Hongxia said, will hopefully lead to improvements in both U.S. and Chinese public schools. She is hoping they can also create a student and teacher exchange to continue learning from one another to create the best school systems.

Not only will Hongxia see the instructional side of the Germantown School District, but the administrative side as well. She also participated in a morning leadership meeting.

Hongxia is one of eight administrators visiting schools throughout Wisconsin this week. A few other schools participating in the exchange program include a private school in Prairie du Chien, and public schools in Algoma and Sturgeon Bay. The eight Chinese administrators last week spent time in Madison, getting a run down of K-12 education at the Department of Public Instruction.

When Borden traveled to China in April, she was one of 32 administrators from across the U.S. who went abroad to study Chinese schools.

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