As the Ballston Spa Central School District becomes more diverse from the children of families working at GlobalFoundries, two of the school’s educators are flying to China today to learn more about the country and its schools.
“It’s important to take on more of an international perspective,” said Kerri Canzone-Ball, director of special education. “China has a big impact on the economy as a whole.”
Canzone-Ball and Bairbre McCarthy, the district’s gifted and talented instructor, are two of about 425 U.S. teachers selected to go to China this week as part of the College Board’s 2012 Chinese Bridge Delegation. They are the only teachers picked in the Capital Region. In 2008, two Schenectady teachers were chosen for the same honor.
In a competitive selection process, the two Ballston Spa teachers were chosen in part because of the district’s Chinese programs. Gifted students in the Ballston Scholars program from grades three to seven learn some Chinese language and culture during the school day.
After school, kindergarten through fifth-grade students can elect to take part in Project Chinese, which is Chinese language and culture courses. All students can also take those classes in the summer or online.
A teacher from Beijing instructs the students in basic vocabulary and phrases in Chinese. And the two Ballston Spa educators learn alongside the students. Canzone-Ball said she and McCarthy took an adult education class on Chinese.
“We can speak a few words, and we hope to learn with the students,” she said.
In the China trip, which lasts through Nov. 15, the teachers will be stopping at several schools as they travel around the country, she said. The College Board funds part of the trip.
There have been previous connections between Ballston Spa teachers and China. High school language teacher Cindy Hoetzer visited China in July for a cultural and educational trip on a scholarship from Education First.
Malta Avenue Elementary School students in the Ballston Scholars program are blogging questions to Melissa Hosek, a recent Ballston Spa graduate who also attended their elementary school and is in China on a college exchange program. She plans to visit the school in January.
Hosek blogs about her experiences at http://melinthemiddle.org, answering students’ questions and also posting entries about her travels within China and living in Beijing.
Chinese delegates also have visited Ballston Spa. The district hosted them twice at the elementary schools, Canzone-Ball said.