Kingsport schools now teaching Chinese from pre-K through high school

Rick Wagner • Jan 10, 2018 at 3:32 PM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport City Schools has expanded its Mandarin Chinese language program, which this school year is serving students in eight schools from pre-K through high school.

KCS Chief Academic Officer Brian Cinnamon said the system also has a new link to the Confucius Institute through Middle Tennessee State University after the original link, the University of Memphis, folded its program. He said the program also still comes at a minimal cost to KCS that hasn’t gone up with the additional teachers.

Ming Yang, who teaches Chinese at Dobyns-Bennett High School, gave the Board of Education and the audience a crash course in Chinese during Tuesday’s board meeting.


Also teaching in the system are Yanni Shang at Robinson Middle; Ying Shang at Sevier Middle; Lv Li at Washington Elementary; and Guan Pu, who helps oversee the program, Monday through Wednesday at Roosevelt Elementary, Thursday at the Palmer (pre-K) Center and alternating Fridays at Jefferson and Kennedy elementaries.

During the fall semester, 22 D-B students took Chinese, which aside from reading, writing and speaking, includes sessions on Chinese culture, food, music and art, comparing them to their American counterparts. 

At Robinson, students rotate on a quarterly basis, while at Sevier students have pen pals in China who write in Chinese and English. Cinnamon said the teachers are accustomed to teaching older students but have found the pre-K and elementary students are excited to learn Chinese words and phrases.


In other action, the board: 

— Approved tenure for more than 50 teachers 3-0 with the ill Eric Hyche and Vice President Carrie Upshaw absent. Voting yes were President Susan Lodal, Todd Golden and Karen Reed-Wright.

— Recognized D-B sophomore runner Sasha Neglia, who won the girls cross country state championship on Nov. 4. Her 5K time was 18 minutes, 15.71 seconds.

— Approved a policy change saying credit recovery students must pass by only a 70 percent grade no matter how low their initial failing grade.

— Approved a work-based learning evaluation process.

— Approved a Tennessee law-required change saying student-athletes can be excused from games, practices or other related activities if they fall on a school holiday, observed day of worship or a religious holiday if parents give the coach at least a three-day notice. True said band and other programs, not part of the law change, may be addressed in other policies later in the year.

— Approved a crossing guard agreement to pay for the Kingsport Police Department to contract with an outside group to provide school crossing guards, instead of the current system where police employees are crossing guards.

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