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Skilling divulges more details about int'l HS in China



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May 04, 2011 - Last week Oxford Community Schools, Beijing Channel Consulting, Ltd. (BCC) and Northeast Yucai Education Group of Shenyang, China established a partnership to open an international senior high school in Shenyang, China.

A few details about Northeast Yucai Oxford International Senior High School (NYO) were made public when the district sent out a press release on Wednesday, April 20. This week, Superintendent Dr. William Skilling responded to questions previously emailed to him while in China, providing more information about the international school, which is set to open on Sept., 1, 2011.

It was reported last week NYO was going to be a tuition based, grade 10-12 school.

According to Dr. Skilling, the tuition amount for the school had yet to be established because the business plan had yet to be completed.

"Once the BCC (the financial and reporting arm of the partnership) completes the business plan, the tuition will be established and Oxford will receive revenue from the tuition," Skilling said.

Skilling also went on to say the cost of operating the building and maintaining the staff will be funded by "a private Chinese investor."

He also noted OCS will not have to contribute any money toward the school, but will have to hire teachers for the Oxford portion of the curriculum.

"Oxford will recruit and select one of the administrators and all of the Michigan certified teachers for the Oxford curriculum portion," Skilling said. "We will provide staff training and evaluation of staff, some of which will be done through Skype."

Teacher training would be initially paid for by the BCC, but revenue from the tuition would eventually pay for the cost of training.

Skilling also noted the district would receive funding that would help support students who study abroad and participate in foreign exchange programs.

"In the coming years, it will help replace the School Aid funding reductions," he added.

It was reported last week that students attending NYO will learn under OCS curriculum and have the opportunity to earn both a Chinese and American diploma.

Students will be taught in a bilingual environment, meaning Chinese teachers will teach the required Chinese curriculum in Mandarin Chinese, while teachers hired by the school district will teach the required Oxford High School curriculum in English.

Skilling noted some courses, like math and science, will be co-taught in both languages.

"The goal is to have both the Chinese and American curriculum delivered through the best Western practices of teaching," Skilling said.

In an interview last week with Steve Courtney of WJR 760AM, Skilling said an estimated 100 Chinese students would begin at the school in 10th grade in 2011. Eleventh grade would be added in 2012 and 12th grade the following year.

The facility, which has a capacity of 500 students, would be located on the campus of Northeast Yucai School.

"They have a lot of capacity with new facilities that are not in use yet (and) we are occupying one of the new facilities," Skilling said.

Students who attend NYO will study for three years and have the flexibility to attend school all three years in China, two years in China and one year in the United States or two years in the United States and one year in China, according to the press release the district sent out last week.

Upon graduation, students will have to meet requirements for both China and the state of Michigan.

"The students attending this school are primarily seeking to attend an American university," Skilling added. "However, some will attend a Chinese university."

NYO will utilize the same textbooks and frameworks that are currently in use at Oxford High School.

"The course catalog will consist of Oxford High School's curriculum offerings, which meet the state of Michigan standards," Skilling said.

According to Skilling, the international school has already purchased textbooks from OHS for the different classes being taught. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Dr. James Schwarz spent two weeks at the international school in February preparing teachers to use the purchased curriculum.

Courses at the NYO will also be offered virtually, creating a "borderless school." NYO will receive courses virtually that are currently taught at OHS, while students at OHS can virtually take courses at the international school.

Skilling said this partnership will benefit Oxford students by giving them opportunities to study in China for a semester or year.

"It provides a more culturally diverse learning environment for our students, it provides an opportunity for students to develop a deeper understanding of the Chinese culture and it provides an opportunity for students learning Mandarin Chinese to improve their language development by speaking with native speakers of Mandarin Chinese," Skilling said.

Additionally, this partnership will help Oxford students bridge the cultural and linguistic divide that exists globally.

"Without an appreciation for other cultures, other languages, national history of other countries and having an understanding of the problems and contributions of other countries, our students would not be functionally employable in the global market."

The international school will also be a feeder school for the Oxford International Residency Academy, located on the campus of Crossroads for Youth in Oxford.

The official signing ceremony for Northeast Yucai Oxford International Senior High School took place on Wednesday, April 20 in Shenyang, China.

Along with Skilling, attendees at the ceremony included Dr. Gao Chen, Principal of the Northeast Yucai School, Principal Xing of the Northeast Yucai Fushan School and Yao Xuyang, the Executive Director of BCC.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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