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Two Participate Learning Partner Schools Recognized on CLTA List of Distinguished K-12 Chinese Programs

Chinese Language Teachers Association award honors top elementary and secondary school programs throughout the United States      

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — March 19, 2024Participate Learning, a leader in providing education solutions to K-12 schools, today announced that two North Carolina partners, Marvin Elementary School (Union County Public Schools) and Stough Magnet Elementary School (Wake County Public School System), have been named Distinguished K-12 Chinese Programs by the Chinese Language Teachers Association, USA, (CLTA). These schools are among just 16 schools in the United States — and the only two in North Carolina — to earn the designation this year. 

“We are so proud that both of these deserving programs received such a prestigious recognition,” Participate Learning CEO David Young said. “Dual Language Programs like these not only improve students’ academic and cognitive abilities but also prepare them with the skills and cultural competencies they need to thrive in the modern world.”

Marvin Elementary School, which serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade, started a Mandarin Dual Language Program in partnership with Participate Learning during the 2012-13 school year. Today, the school has one Mandarin class per grade level, with students in kindergarten through third grade receiving 80 percent of instruction in all subjects in the language. Students in fourth and fifth grades operate on a 50/50 model, where instruction is balanced between the target language and English. 

In total, the program employs six Mandarin teachers and has a student enrollment of 114. 

“I am so proud of our Mandarin Dual Language Immersion (DLI) team for receiving this amazing award! This recognition is the result of our DLI team’s commitment to providing our students with the best possible language immersion experience,” Marvin Elementary School Principal Dr. Scott Spencer said. “The consistent support from our district office and from Participate Learning has allowed our Mandarin program to grow and to be successful year after year. Thank you to our entire school community for supporting our wonderful DLI program here at Marvin!”

Stough Magnet Elementary School, which has students in preschool through fifth grade, has had a Mandarin immersion program in place since the 2014-15 school year. There are two classes per grade level with 233 students enrolled across all grade levels and eight Mandarin teachers. The school employs the 80/20 model for kindergarten through second grade and the 50/50 model for third through fifth grades.

“Our Mandarin Dual Language Program is a shining star that sheds light over our entire school community,” Stough Elementary Principal Jodi Lay said. “I am honored and grateful to the Chinese Language Teacher Association for recognizing and celebrating the greatness I see in our students, staff and community. Stallions, I am ‘Stough proud’ of your talent, hard work and dedication to teaching and learning.”

To be considered for the honor, programs are evaluated for their quality and student achievement. In addition, they must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • At least five years of teaching history
  • An average teaching experience of three years or more
  • An average educational level of a master’s degree among the program’s teachers
  • At least half of the teachers actively participating in various professional development organizations, conferences, trainings or scholarships 

Eligible programs range from standard Chinese as a second language classes and immersive Chinese teaching to after-school or weekend programs.    

Participate Learning partners with schools to build Dual Language Programs for kindergarten through eighth grade students in both Mandarin and Spanish. There are currently 164 programs in 160 schools in North Carolina and Virginia. 

At Participate Learning, we foster cultural and language connections that empower students and educators to positively impact their communities and the world. In service to that mission, we’ve been partnering with schools and districts since 1987 to improve student outcomes; bring diverse perspectives to schools through cultural exchange and our Ambassador Teachers program; build Spanish and Mandarin Dual Language Programs that support academic achievement, bilingualism and biliteracy; and cultivate real-world competencies that prepare students for their future careers and a more interconnected world. Together, we can create a better future for students.

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