SAD 46 in discussion to provide Chinese students with DRHS diploma

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    DEXTER — It may not be long before students in Beijing proudly display their Dexter Regional High School diplomas on their walls. Two Chinese schools, one in Beijing and the other located in its suburbs, have indicated they want the central Maine high school to provide their students with an American high school education.

    SAD 46 has five Chinese students attending DRHS this semester. Each Chinese family is paying $16,300 to send their child to the school. Chinese parents have placed a high value on their children receiving both an American college and high school education. But the cost, and prospects of sending their sons and daughters nearly 6,700 miles away, has resulted in them searching for other educational solutions.
    Many American-styled high schools have opened predominantly in the Beijing-area and throughout the country.     Two English-speaking high schools in China, one in Beijing and the other in its suburbs, intimated it wants their students to receive a dual diploma from Dexter Regional High School. The negotiations between SAD 46 and their Chinese counterparts is being facilitated by Global Study Connections in Dover-Foxcroft.
    GSC works for students and their families to provide them the resources necessary to pursue study abroad opportunities in America. It partners with 82 American private high schools, three American universities and several public high schools around the country. DRHS is one of the public high schools the firm has partnered with. Dexter’s five Chinese students attending this semester resulted from a GSC placement.
    SAD 46 entered into the agreement for educational enrichment for its students and staff as well as bringing a new revenue stream into the district. In time, the agreement may result in $90,000 for the district.
    “We hope it will provide some opportunities for our students to do some work curriculum-wise back and forth with these kids in China,” said SAD 46 Superintendent Kevin Jordan. “It is certainly an opportunity for our staff to engage in professional development.”
    SAD 46 is also discussing providing a Chinese school with their kindergarten and grade one curriculums. A Chinese school plans on providing their young students with a half-day session of American curriculum for both age groups. SAD 46 would receive monetary compensation for their service.
    “We are looking at receiving about $150 in registration fees from both the high school, kindergarten and grade one curriculums,” Jordan said. “It is still is a work in progress, but I’m, thinking at a minimum of $150 per student.”
    The early education curriculum would initially start with 30 students and may increase to 600 in a few years, according to GSC Chief Executive Officer Jay Brennan. He spoke to the SAD 46 directors about the proposal during the May 1 board meeting. Brennan explained the American and Chinese educational systems as being vastly different. In China, they start earlier in the morning and end later in the evening. Chinese schools also routinely have between 60-70 students in a classroom.
    The Chinese system also emphasizes memorization which differs from American education which promotes critical thinking. Brennan indicated the two major languages of international commerce are English and Chinese. He has grown to understand through his work with GSC that Chinese parents want the American education to prepare  their children for success in world markets.
    “Chinese parents understand that we live in a global economy. The best way to learn English is to immerse oneself in it,” Brennan said. “One way is to send their students to high school in America, and the other is to bring that educational experience to China.”
    Jordan also believed the sister-school arrangement would allow DRHS to send students to the English-language Chinese schools for a semester.

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