Thursday, December 5, 2013

Magen David in China!

This past week, I had the pleasure of visiting Beijing, China on behalf of Magen David Yeshivah High School.  Out of over 62 schools, the Beijing Institute of Education visited this past summer, they chose our school to come present to over 300 principals in Beijing on our educational model.  After many mishaps in travel, lost bags, and 25 hours total on 4 airplanes, I finally arrived, a day late, but in time for my part of the Beijing Institute of Education (henceforth, BIE) conference.  The day before, Dr. Abe Tawil spoke about how he became affiliated with Magen David and Sabrina Maleh spoke about both the overall administrative structure of MDYHS and the career and college focus.  More specifically, she discussed our prized internship program.  Then, I got up and presented our academics complete with our skills based learning focusing on flipped education, blended learning, and project based learning.  The principals were very engaged and asked amazing and detailed questions.

Three principals came up to me after my speech and asked if they were able to join forces with our school for the National Association of Independent Schools 20/20 Challenge.  In the end, we are going with Beijing School #80 which we had the distinct pleasure of visiting and getting to know the vice principal there.  It was an exceptional school with large buildings, elaborate courses schedules and tons of innovative extracurricular activities.  Included in the 5000 + student school was an international school of 100 students.  The school had a planetarium, a pool, an entire building dedicated as a library, a building just for teacher meetings, and a building just for standardized test instruction.  In addition to a turf field, basketball court, and art wing, students had high tech classrooms and teachers had sophisticated faculty rooms.  In addition to a rather high tech and spacious facility, their faculty and staff seemed very dedicated and knowledgable.   They hung not just student work, but photographs of students engaged in learning and extracurricular activities all over their campus, even utilizing outside billboards and walls of buildings.  Their determination to empower and celebrate students in their learning was inspirational.

Dr. Abe Tawil (CSO of MDYHS), Li Xiaojun(VP of Beijing No 80), me, Sabrina Maleh (MDYHS Associated Principal), and Doris Pokras (Head of Global Career Services and US BIE contact) at Beijing School No 80
I love this sign on the conference room in the teacher's meeting building.
During in our incredible visit, we visited the Forbidden City and walked around the People's Park.  We spent a lot of time learning about the cultural differences and similarities between Chinese and American educational systems.  We look forward to learning and growing with our new partners!