For the past five years, Parker has enjoyed a special exchange program with the YK Pao School in Shanghai. Each year, both schools send a group of students and faculty to experience school life in China and America. This year, Ms. Irene Gong, Grade 2 Mandarin and science teacher at YK Pao visited Parker for two weeks in October.
For the first week of her visit, Ms. Gong spent time at Lower School observing classroom life for students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 5. Teaching Grade 2 herself, Ms. Gong said she was fascinated by the student/teacher relationship at Parker.
“In every class that I visited the students were very respectful and automatically settled down when it was time for class,” said Ms. Gong.
Ms. Gong was also very impressed by the Design Lab at the Lower School. While many of the activities done in the Design Lab may be seen as dangerous back home, Ms. Gong was surprised with each of the student’s knowledge of safety and the teacher’s confidence that the students would conduct themselves in an orderly way.
“The connection between student and teacher here is very unique,” said Ms. Gong. “Parker faculty put a lot of trust in their students you don’t find anywhere else.”
Ms. Gong believes what fuels this trust between student and faculty are the displays of what she calls “the philosophies of life” also known as S.T.R.IV.E.: Parker’s Code of Ethics.
“I love the [STRIVE] displays in each of the homerooms,” said Ms. Gong. “It is like a gentle reminder every day of how to be a good student.”
Ms. Gong has been teaching for more than 6 years. A journey she didn’t imagine would be so gratifying.
“I didn’t know teaching would be so fun,” said Ms. Gong. “Children are so kind and inherently curious about the world around them they often remind me to do the same as an adult.”
Ms. Gong said she is very excited to return home and share the new ideas and best practices she gained during her time at Parker.
“The community here is so welcoming and nice,” said Ms. Gong. “I really enjoyed my time here.”
Parker students will visit YK Pao with a faculty member in April. The school is a co-educational boarding and day school located outside Shanghai in Thames Town. Founded in 2007, YK Pao also offers Grades Pre-K to 12, on two separate campuses similar to Parker.