Wayne County Public Schools (WCPS) has learned that it will receive a half million dollar grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) to implement a Mandarin Chinese program at Norwayne Middle School.
Dr. Maguy Yancey, WCPS Coordinator of Remote Learning, Language & Cultural Education, says while the five year grant targets military connected students, the new program will benefit all students at the school.
“Mandarin Chinese is the fastest-growing language in North Carolina,” states Dr. Yancey. “Norwayne students in grades 6-8 will increase their knowledge and interest in Mandarin Chinese language and culture, and develop socio-cultural competence. This specialized program will help promote, enrich, and sustain early language exposure to enhance bilingualism, biliteracy and cultural awareness.”
Language immersion programs are not new to WCPS. In 2019, Spring Creek Elementary launched a dual language immersion program, which allows students in grades K-3 - with 4th grade being added in 2023-2024 - to take classes in English and Spanish beginning in Kindergarten. That same year, Carver Elementary temporarily piloted a Chinese Mandarin class with 2nd grade students. This year, WCPS launched a Chinese Enrichment program at Tommy’s Road Elementary for students in grades 3-5. Similar in nature to both established programs, Norwayne Middle students will be able to learn the Mandarin Chinese language and culture by using the four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. At the same time, cultural components will be embedded in the learning process.
“Norwayne students will be able to reflect on their own culture and the target culture and also work collaboratively with another school district in Zhejiang to enrich language and culture appreciation,” adds Dr. Yancey. “Through this world language program, students will be given the opportunity to enhance their knowledge in a new language. Students will learn Mandarin-Chinese in Middle school and will be able to continue learning the language in high school through the North Carolina Virtual Public School.”
The grant is funded through the DoDEA Partnership and Resources Division. WCPS was eligible because it has at least one school with a 10% military-connected student population. Since 2012, WCPS has been awarded $2.6 million in DoDEA grants to support military connected students.
“We appreciate the opportunities afforded by DoDEA to implement specialized programming that will benefit students from Wayne County and those relocating to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base from other military installations across the United States and abroad,” states Dr. David Lewis, WCPS Superintendent. “Our previous DoDEA grants focused on college and career readiness through integrated STEM learning. This grant will give participating students the opportunity to develop a second language skill and appreciation, which will most certainly benefit them as they advance through school and into the workforce or in life.”