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Gladstone schools last week hosted Gaoyuan Lu, principal of Xi’an No. 89 Middle School, which serves 2,600 students in grades 7 through 12 in Xi’an City, in Central China’s Shaanxi Province.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Kraxberger Middle School student Renee Baker is pictured with visiting Principal Gaoyuan Lu.On Thursday, Nov. 21, Lu was greeted by Kraxberger Middle School Principal Nancy Bailey and a group of eight student leaders, who presented the visitor with a gift, and then accompanied him on a tour of the school.

Before the tour, Renee Baker, 14, led Lu to a map of China, on the wall in the lobby, and pointed out where she had been born.

First stops in the building included a visit to the gymnasium, where boys were learning wrestling moves, then the band room, where the jazz band, under the direction of David Kays, played two tunes and, finally, the school garden.

Using the skills of translator Lynne Jenne, Bailey told Lu that students had built the raised beds, and that the vegetables harvested in late summer and fall were used by the school’s cooks in the cafeteria.

Compare, contrast

Looking back on his experiences, Lu said he most enjoyed learning how teachers and students were evaluated, and how that information is used.

The biggest differences in the two school systems revolved around the buildings and the students.

“You walk into an American school, and it is quite flat, but in China you see tall building after building; quite spread out. Also, American students are relaxed and free, but in China students have a lot of pressure and have very little freedom,” Lu said.

“But school systems in both countries have one thing in common, in that educators in both try to raise a successful generation,” he said.

When he returns to his school in China, he will talk to his teachers about how American school systems are structured and managed, how students and teachers are managed, how classes are designed and about teacher salaries.

“They will all want to know what it is like being a teacher here,” Lu said. “What has impressed me is the warmth of my reception from Superintendent Bob Stewart and all the administrators and teachers, and especially from my host family, who took good care of me.”

Lu added that when Stewart comes to visit his school in China in March, he hopes the two have more opportunities to discuss potential cooperative endeavors, like a teacher-exchange or student-exchange program.

Visit part of three-year project

As part of a three-year project of the Confederation of School Administrators, this year’s effort brought a cadre of Chinese educators for visits with school districts in Oregon, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. During his visit in Gladstone, Lu stayed with a local family and had the opportunity to visit all four schools in the Gladstone District, including the Gladstone Center for Children and Families.

He also took a tour of the Columbia Gorge and spent a day in Salem, meeting with the Oregon Department of Education.Then, from March 22 to April 4, Stewart will travel to Xi’an City to spend time exploring the Chinese school system in Lu’s school.

November has been a busy month for the Gladstone School District. In addition to Lu’s visit, the district welcomed Oregon Education Czar Nancy Golden and Early Learning System Director Jada Rupley on Nov. 13 for a tour of the Gladstone Center for Children & Families.The leaders met with Stewart and GCCF partners to discuss early childhood education and support programs, part of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s plan to connect learning programs from birth to college.

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