Students thrive at Blue Valley's new Chinese immersion program

Nearly halfway through the school year, students at the brand new Wolf Springs Elementary School in the Blue Valley School District are adjusting well.

More than 300 students are enrolled at the school, and many of them are taking part in a new Chinese immersion program.

It's a first for the school district, and it had its share of challenges at the outset.

"They were crying, they were asking to go to the bathrooms every ten minutes, so it was chaos for me," said Claire Penn, a kindergarten teacher in the immersion program. 

Penn said her students needed an adjustment period to get used to the new setting. After all, they were placed into a program that used a completely foreign language from day one.

"Then, of course, if they need to listen and follow directions in Chinese, (it) makes this harder," Penn said.

Nearly three months later, her students are wowing their parents.

"The parents are amazed because the kids count and sing a song in Chinese at home," Penn said. "And the kids teach the parents some simple Chinese they have learned in the classroom."

Two teachers are part of the program. One teaches all subjects in English while the other one teaches the same in Chinese.

The district researched several other immersion programs in other states to come up with its program.


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