The school board approved a Chinese instructor program on Tuesday during a special-called meeting.
Superintendent David Johnson said he was excited about the new class, which will allow students the opportunity to speak three languages upon graduation.
“The Chinese instructor program is one that was discussed last fall, and I was very pleased when this was brought up again,” said Johnson. “I am excited about the opportunities this will bring to our children.”
The program will allow a teacher from China to work in the high school and teach the Chinese language, along with the country’s culture.
“With the role that China is playing in the world today, our kids are going to have the advantage of better understanding that language,” said Johnson. “This is a great opportunity for our kids and for our community, and I really appreciate the board taking the lead on this and wanting to explore it.”
Johnson said there was no guarantee how long the district would be able to offer the program and urged parents to encourage their children to participate.
“This is a program that is going to be different from anything they have ever participated in — the language is very different, even the script is very different, so it is a great opportunity for them, and I hope they will take advantage of it,” he said.
Board member Becky Goss added that the Chinese language is the best to learn because of the significant role China is taking in the world.
Chairman Joe Meadors said one of his main concerns with the program was to be certain that the teacher would be fluent in English.
Johnson assured the board that the teacher would be fluent in English as well as being able to help in history or humanities studies when the curriculum involved Asian history.
“Even though they may be fluent in English, I think there still may be other issues. I mean, even people who come from Lexington to Harlan sometimes have trouble with the transition,” said Johnson. “These people take this very seriously — they see it as a great honor to come to the United States to represent their country and be a service to their government.”
Johnson informed the board that the school district would be one of the smallest schools to participate in this program and that he recommends that all students consider this program when enrolling.