By Christine Bryant
Tina Thomas-Manning is hoping a recent trip to China will benefit students right here in Reynoldsburg.
In November, the Reynoldsburg City Schools superintendent visited schools that serve students in kindergarten through grade 12 in Beijing and Chongqing, the largest province in China with a population of more than 33 million people.
The purpose – to collaborate with Chinese educators and to tour schools throughout the country, observing their practices and forming partnerships that would be mutually beneficial to students and educators in China and in the United States.
The trip was co-sponsored by the College Board and the Chinese Delegation, a group of Chinese leaders charged with exploring and engaging in international partnerships that will enable their teachers and leaders to explore ways to enrich the education of Chinese students.
“Over 200 educators throughout the United States participated in the 2015 Chinese Bridge delegation, which is an annual event,” Thomas-Manning said. “Many of the U.S. school districts represented, including Reynoldsburg, currently offer Chinese programs.”
Last summer, she submitted an application to participate and was informed of her selection to attend last fall.
Throughout the visit, Thomas-Manning said the Chinese education leaders expressed their desire to find ways to encourage and support innovation in Chinese education.
“Chinese educators commended educators from the United States for encouraging and supporting creativity in education and frequently expressed their desire to explore ways that they can replicate this practice in their country,” she said.
There also were several presentations from Chinese education leaders and round table discussions about Reynoldsburg’s unique approaches to innovation.
“I shared information on many of the programs in our district, such as our K-12 STEM programs, career pathways, computer science courses and programs that foster our students’ creativity and innovation,” she said.
The schools she toured showcased their early attempts at infusing courses intended to foster creativity among their children, Thomas-Manning said.
“I observed cooking classes, music and dance classes, and even took a lesson in Chinese calligraphy,” she said. “As they continue their work, the Chinese education leaders expressed their desire to form partnerships with our school district because of our reputation for spearheading innovative approaches in education.”
Although no plans were solidified during her visit, Thomas-Manning said there are plans to further discuss how one or more of Reynoldsburg’s schools might engage in a mutually beneficial partnership with a sister school in China.
“Overall, this was an outstanding opportunity to explore a promising new partnership for our students and staff,” she said.