Austin Peay State University (APSU)
Clarksville, TN – For nearly 90 years, Austin Peay State University (APSU) has provided professional development training for local teachers, but in late February, the Eriksson College of Education expanded its services well beyond the Middle Tennessee region.
On Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 a delegation of 15 preschool and kindergarten teachers and administrators from Beijing, China, arrived on campus for a special, week-long training symposium.
“They showed us a lot of concepts of education in America,” Hong Yang, a principal at China’s Oriental Dragon International Preschool and Kindergarten, said. “We had no idea about American education, but later we plan to suggest to our kindergarten parents to let their kids study here in the future.”
Yang said the American style of teaching was “totally different from the Chinese,” and she was impressed by the different teaching strategies and activities, “especially in the STEM professional development. It was amazing.”
During their visit, the teachers received training in early childhood and in science instruction at Austin Peay’s state-of-the-art Jack Hunt STEM Center. Dr. Bing Xiao and Dr. Philip Short, APSU assistant professors of education, led several intensive professional development sessions for the group.
The Chinese teachers also visited different types of American schools, including Amare Montessori on Warfield Drive, the Little Govs Child Learning Center on campus, and Barkers Mill Elementary School.
“The principal at Barkers Mill, Mrs. (Rhonda) Kennedy, was so gracious, giving us a tour of the school, and letting the teachers attend a grade-level planning meeting,” Dr. Benita Bruster, chair of the APSU Department of Teaching and Learning, said. “They let us attend the entire meeting. Our guests learned about assessments, and they got to listen and ask questions, and participate.”
For the last year, Bruster and Ji Ma, APSU graduate teaching assistant, have worked to develop strategic relationships between APSU’s Eriksson College of Education and schools in China. Last May, Bruster went on a 10-day recruiting trip through northeastern China, visiting three universities and initiating 3-plus-2 partnerships with different institutions.
As part of those partnerships, students will complete two years of their education in China and then spend their junior and senior years and a year in graduate school at Austin Peay State University.
During February’s delegation visit, Bruster and Dr. Prentice Chandler, dean of the Eriksson College of Education, laid the groundwork for a different type of agreement with the private kindergarten.
Yang said she already planned to recommend Austin Peay to the parents of her students, and as for recruiting her teachers to go all the way to Clarksville to study, she said it would be an easy sell.
“It’s a very nice campus with very beautiful buildings, with nice teachers, nice professors.”
For information on APSU’s Eriksson College of Education, visit, www.apsu.edu/education