A Chinese delegation of 28 school administrators and teachers toured Shenandoah County Public Schools on Wednesday.
The group visited W.W. Robinson Elementary School and Peter Muhlenberg Middle School classes. They have been touring schools for 10 days, including attending seminars at the University of Virginia on various aspects of the American educational system.
W.W. Robinson Principal Diane McLean welcomed the group Wednesday. She told them about the structure of the school, the resources they have to help students, and some student population facts, including the 17 percent of students at the school who speak English as a second language and the 50 percent of the students who are economically disadvantaged.
The delegation then began the tour by following fifth-grade student ambassadors Sophia Hoffman, 11, and Elie Whetzel, 10, who took them through the pre-kindergarten and and STEM classrooms.
The pre-K students were busy when the group walked in.
“Are you trying to learn how to dance?” George Liu of the delegation asked the children.
Soon the students were dancing to a tune called “Milkshake,” with a few of the adults laughing and joining in.
Once the wiggles were shaken out, teacher Ashley Rohrbaugh told the group about what the kids do on an average day.
In China, elementary schools are made up of first through sixth grades, Liu said.
The group toured the STEM and gifted classrooms as well as fourth and fifth grade classes.
It was in the fifth grade where they saw children wearing a virtual reality device for a tour of the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
Before leaving the elementary school to tour Peter Muhlenberg Middle School, the group gave the two student ambassadors keychains and donated books to the school.
Yiwei Liu was one of the educators in the group.
Yiwei Liu, speaking through a translator, said students in the United States work more independently and are studying freely in the classroom.
To Yiwei Liu, that showed the value of freedom of ideas in the United States.
China’s education system is transitioning from a more traditional based learning model to one more like in the United States, more project-based, Yiwei Liu said.
Triway International out of Falls Church is coordinating the visiting educators travel. Triway is affiliated with the American Association of School Administrators.