PERU — On Friday afternoon, the four Chinese representatives visiting from Kinglee High School took a full tour of the St. Bede Academy campus to get a better look at their sister school.
Wei-Chi Lee, owner and president of Kinglee School, located in Zhengzhou, China, signed a formal agreement with St. Bede Superintendent Ted Struck last week. The agreement opens the door to a new opportunity for St. Bede students. Beginning next spring, selected students will be able to study for a semester at Kinglee, as St. Bede’s curriculum is on its way to being integrated into the school.
This year, St. Bede has hosted six students from Kinglee and plans to host a higher number of students next year.
On Friday, before the tour, Struck briefly sat down and answered a few questions people may be thinking about as the cross cultural education opportunity expands at St. Bede.
How will this opportunity impact the economic opportunity in the Illinois Valley?
“From a very naive perspective, the people of Zhengzhou, China, will be sending about 900,000 of their dollars here to pay for tuition for their kids to study at St. Bede,” Struck explained, assuring that dollar amount is gross, not net. “We don’t spend our money internationally. Here at St. Bede, It’s all spent local.”
From a macroeconomic viewpoint, Struck explained it’s pure input with no cost to the economy of the Illinois Valley. His daily costs to keep St. Bede up and running will be the benefit to the economics of the Illinois Valley because everything he will spend will be purchased here.
How easy will it be to integrate St. Bede curriculum into Kinglee High School?
With the help of technology, Struck explained the task will be “a smooth process.” The procedure is in full swing with representatives at Kinglee already reviewing and discussing the curriculum.
“Once it really gets going, teachers here will send lesson plans over to (teachers in Kinglee), and we will have a mentoring program between teachers,” he said.
The teachers and principal at Kinglee will all be American citizens, which St. Bede Academy will hire.
“It will take effort, but I don’t see it being a burdensome. I see it as a professional development opportunity,” Struck explained, adding that St. Bede teachers having the opportunity to review curriculum might be a great refresher.
How will students be selected for China?
As the buzz heightens around the school at the opportunity of studying in China, Struck laughed that there are students already in his office asking about the opportunity.
“There’s really never the interest in the beginning, however, until those first kids come back and say what a great experience it was,” he said.
Struck said St. Bede will start off only sending two or three students in the spring and possibly during the next couple years, the school will increase that number. The students who attend Kinglee will do so at the cost of St. Bede tuition. The students selected to go will be based on many factors including teacher recommendation, classroom effort, parental support and positive outcome after an interview with Struck.
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