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Walnut valley Unified School District

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South Pointe begins cultural exchange

NEWS                                                                                        Walnut Valley Unified School District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         880 S. Lemon Avenue

October 5, 2015                                                                        Walnut, CA 91789



Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources

(909)595-1261 ext. 31204

South Pointe begins cultural exchange

Three teachers set to depart for China on Oct. 14

DIAMOND BAR, CA— South Pointe Middle School is looking toward the future in preparation for its first class of dual immersion students to arrive in the fall of 2017.

Walnut Valley USD launched the first Dual Language Immersion program at Walnut Elementary in 2010, with students studying both Mandarin and English.

That group of students is set to enter middle school next year.

To learn more about the culture and education in China, South Pointe will send a team of three teachers to visit its sister school, Cashi, located in Hangzhou China.

“Our goal is to develop strong relationships and a deeper understanding of the cultures and educational practices of one of the most dominant subgroups at South Pointe, while preparing to become Walnut Valley’s first dual immersion middle school, said Principal Susan Arzola.

Additionally, Shanghai boasts a world-renowned educational system, especially in the teaching of mathematics.

“We hope to have both a cultural and intellectual exchange of practices,” Arzola added.

Three South Pointe teachers, Lauren Guzzino, Jeannette Schaller, and Whitney Rowan, are scheduled to depart for Eastern China on October 14.

“I’m excited to experience a culture that will help me understand the kids a little bit more,” Schaller said.

In return, South Pointe hosted three educators from the Hangzhou school for three weeks in September.

The guests shadowed South Pointe educators who modeled American teaching.

During the second and third weeks they also taught lessons with the guidance and support of the host teachers.

“We learned both educational and cultural insights that enriched my view of Chinese education and culture,” said English teacher Lauren Guzzino.

Through ongoing discussions, the Chinese teachers revealed they greatly admire the US educational system, Guzzino said.

“They listed many things they want to take back to their classrooms.”

“This experience has helped me to better understand what school was like back home and how I can help accommodate to ease the transition to my class,” said ELD teacher Whitney Rowen, who teaches grammar to many students from China.

“And that’s been really helpful,” she said.

“It’s been a good visit,” said Schaller, a social studies teacher. “They’ve noticed how differently our classes are structured.

“The teachers’ day in China is different too,” said Rowen. “They come in early and have breakfast together, take an hour for lunch, and then office hours.”

Math teacher Annie Kim worked with Quan Zhang through the partnership.

“He taught my advanced 6th graders and was very good!” she reported.

The language barrier didn’t pose a problem while students learned to solve equations with the Chinese teacher.

“The kids were excited and had a good time,” Kim said.

“Teaching math here is very different” Zhang said through a translator.

“South Pointe teaches students very carefully,” he added. “It’s quicker in China.”

“We think our time is limited,” said exchange teacher Alice Cao.

“I’ve learned the way we teach English in China is very different than ‘live’ English,” commented Cao, who teachers English at the sister school.

“One of the things I thought was interesting was how their instructional periods are structured. The teacher comes in and teaches for 40 minutes,” Schaller said.

“Instead of the kids moving every period, the teachers move!’ Rowen added.

At South Pointe, classrooms desks are often arranged in groups to enhance student collaboration.

“In China, desks are in rows and the students sit very straight,” Cao explained.

“It’s totally different here. I think the students feel very warm here,” she said.

The Chinese exchange teachers are exited to show off their homeland.

“Everywhere you go in the city you can smell the beautiful fragrance,” described Cao. ““And we will try the fish soup, it’s very delicious!”

Guzzino looks forward to experiencing China for the first time and getting a first-hand glimpse at the education system.

“I am excited to observe how the students interact with their teachers and vice-versa and to see how the structure of their school day impacts student learning.”


South Pointe Middle School hosted three exchange teachers, Alice Cao, Hang Liu, and Quan Zhang, from its sister school in Hangzhou China in September. Shown with Principal Susan Arzola and teachers Lauren Guzzino, Whiteny Rowen, Jeanette Schaller, and Annie Kim. (0117)

South Pointe teachers Lauren Guzzion, Whitney Rowen, and Jeanette Schaller will depart for Hangzhou China on October 14 through a partnership with its sister school. Shown with visiting teachers Alice Cao, Hang Liu, and Quan Zhang. (0120)