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Barnard Elementary selected as one of globe’s top Mandarin Chinese schools

Principal Eddie Park
Principal Eddie Park
 News Coverage

Barnard Mandarin Chinese Magnet School in Pt. Loma has received international recognition as one of four top Confucius Classrooms out of more than 500 worldwide.

The school was nominated by its local partner, the Confucius Institute at San Diego State University, which received a $1 million grant at the same time the honors were announced for Barnard.

"Our Barnard community is thrilled and proud to hear that the program was recognized as being one of the best in the world," said Principal Eddie Park, who traveled to China in December to receive the award. The school received the prestigious California Distinguished School honor in 2010.

Located in the Loma Portal neighborhood, Barnard has gone from struggling to international recognition since the Mandarin Chinese program started in 2007 under former principal Mary Watry. Park, who succeeded the retiring Watry a year later, told U-T San Diego in February 2012 what hard work on the part of staff, parents and students can do.

“This is a testimony of a successful public school,” he told the newspaper. “There is a lot of news about failing public schools these days. A lot of people are talking about how our education system is broken. We turned a failing public around. This is a school parents are now seeking out. It is a California Distinguished School. This shows you what you can do when you work hard, get the resources you need and have the support of the parents, the community, the staff and the children.”

The school has several native-speaking Mandarin Chinese teachers and the language is taught in all grades, while maintaining state and district standards. It also uses technology – the internet and smart boards purchased through funds from voter-approved bonds – to allow students to have real-time teleconferences with schools in China and Taiwan.

"The educational community is also part of our team at Barnard," said Park. "From our literacy specialist, Maria Nichols, and Mary Waldron of the district's Office of Language Acquisition, to Dr. Lily Cheng at SDSU and even the Utah Dual Language Consortium, all contribute to create amazing opportunities for our group of kids in kindergarten through fourth grade."

The success of the program is prompting a move to the larger campus of Bayview Terrace Elementary School in Pacific Beach for the 2013-14 school year.

"This program grew from just an idea on the part of a principal and an administrator to worldwide acclaim," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "It's a great example of our district's philosophy of nurturing innovation that, in this case, will help educate the next generation of world citizens."

Park accepted the award on behalf of the school at the Global Confucius Institute Conference, an annual meeting held in Beijing that is sponsored by the Office of Chinese Language International Council or Hanban, an institution affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education.

Since 2004, Confucius Institutes have been set up in more than 100 countries. Improved understanding of Chinese language and culture is the goal, along with developing friendly relations between China and other countries.

For more information on the school, contact Park at epark@sandi.net.

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