Many students know that South High has a sister school in Beijing, China that’s called the Beijing Royal School (BRS). In recent months, South staff members have been able to travel there to teach the Chinese teachers about Western educational methods. However, South also benefits from the exchange.
“We are extremely fortunate to have this opportunity,” said Principal Cecilia Saddler, because South teachers are able to have professional discussion with teachers from another part of the world.
According to Saddler, the partnership between the schools has been in place for about two years. Former South High principal Linda Nelson established it, and extended the partnership when Saddler became principal. Saddler also mentioned that the goal of the relationship with BRS is to support one another, share teaching strategies, and give BRS students an opportunity to experience an American high school.
There are also nine students from the Beijing area who are spending the year here at South, several of which are from BRS. Two of the BRS students attending South, Ruifa Yang and Yiting Cao, said that they are enjoying their time here at South.
Cao, who is back for her second year at South, said, “I can choose classes I want to take.” Ruifa said that his experience here is “totally different” from BRS. Here, there are more activities, like homecoming week and the Sadie Hawkins’ dance. Also, while South’s school day is from 8:30 am until 3 pm, at BRS, the school day is from 8 am to 9 pm.
Melinda Bennett, an open biology teacher, has taken two trips to the Beijing Royal School. According to Bennett, BRS is much smaller than South, and she described it as very “quiet and calm” as well as competitive.
Bennett said that it is a “cool experience for the short term.” Bennett added that the school focuses heavily on tests. For example, rather than having textbooks for every class, the students have test-prep books that they use to prepare for each test along the way.
Bennett and Sadder shared Western education methods with the teachers at BRS, and Saddler said that South has benefited from the ability to have “professional dialogue” with BRS. Also, Bennett feels that South students have the opportunity to learn from how BRS students behave in school. She said that they are “driven to learn” and are very responsible. Bennett also said that in the West, we take education for granted, whereas in China, students realize what a great opportunity education really is.
Saddler said that she considers it to be “quite an opportunity” to collaborate with the Beijing Royal School, and hopes that as a school, we can learn “how all education has a global impact,” something that can be learned from this partnership.