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Brooks praises Oxford Schools' focus on Chinese in state of county speech

Oxford School Board Treasurer Robert Martin (from left), Beijing Channel Consulting Executive Director Xuyang Yao, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Superintendent Dr. William Skilling, and School Board Trustee Dan D'Alessandro. Photo by Matt Johnson (click for larger version)
February 13, 2013 - Oxford Community Schools officials received a call from County Executive L. Brooks Patterson's office inviting them to attend the State of the County Address on Feb. 7 because he was planning to recognize Oxford Schools for their Mandarin Chinese Program and Global Initiative.

"One of our China-related success stories is on the very northern reaches of Oakland County. Oxford Community Schools embraced my call for Mandarin language and culture instruction back in 2007 and they've taken it to the next level," said Patterson in his speech.

"Oxford Schools Superintendent Bill Skilling says that the Oxford Community Schools now have 11 sister schools in China; operates one international high school in Fushun, China; and will be opening a second school in Chongqing, China this coming fall. Oxford Schools also is exporting education to China virtually as well."

"Oxford Schools currently have more students learning Mandarin Chinese language and culture in a fluency-based program than the rest of the school districts in Michigan combined," continued Patterson. "Its Fifth Core World Language & Culture program was recognized by the Hanban and the Asia Society as one of the 100 model programs in America. That kind of success deserves a round of applause. And Bill Skilling is in the audience tonight. Thank you, Bill."

"It was nice to be recognized for something Brooks Patterson was responsible for," Skilling said.

Skilling said when he originally came to Oxford, he wasn't looking at Mandarin Chinese language and culture until he was made aware of Patterson's State of County Address in 2007, which called on all schools to teach Mandarin Chinese and its culture.

"We really took it to heart," added Skilling, who met with Patterson's Director of Economic Development at the time, Doug Smith, to discuss the initiative.

To help Skilling gain a better understanding, Smith invited him along on a trip to China.

"It was from that experience I realized how important it would be for our students to know the language and culture," he said. "That's how we got started."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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