Beginning last year, Principal Noonan and I, in partnership with Spiral International, began a grant application process to fund and bring a native-speaking Mandarin-Chinese Language instructor to Fairfax. You may remember our announcement that we had won the grant late in the spring of 2021.
After an extensive vetting process and working through logistics, we excitedly awaited the arrival of this year’s guest teacher at Burlington International Airport on August 11th. In partnership with Spiral International, teachers Dr. Jensen Welch and Alana Toraca worked miracles to ensure that our new teacher would be welcomed and supported in partnership with our school and community as she settled in and began preparations for the school year.
We are so excited to welcome Hsian-Lan Cheng, a veteran teacher of more than twelve years in Taiwan. Out of over 800 applicants, she is one of 16 teachers who was awarded a position with the “Teachers of Critical Languages Program” through the American Councils organization in 2022. It is an honor to have Hsian-Lan at BFA Fairfax teaching Mandarin this year. She has been able to offer language classes to grades 5, 6, and 9, as well as cultural enrichment opportunities across all grades in our school community.
In Mandarin class, for the first part of the year, students have started with basic Mandarin-Chinese Language and some Asian cultural activities. Students have loved learning both about the culture and expanding their language abilities. So far, beyond daily language learning and practice, students have also had a chance to try some Asian food such as mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival and BOBA tea.
Each day in class, students are actively participating and practicing their language skills. And, despite the difficulty in learning Mandarin, students consistently report that the class is fun, that they are learning a lot, and that they love their teacher!
Bellows Free Academy 5-8 Principal