A group of 10 Chinese school officials from Jilin City toured three New Rochelle schools Monday as part of an exchange of information between the two municipalities.
Ma Tianmin, president of the Teacher Professional Development Institute of Chuanying District of Jilin City, said he was impressed with the diversity in New Rochelle schools and would be taking many ideas back to his country.
"Educators in Jilin City are open to the development of the philosophy of education," Ma said.
He and the others were impressed with the lessons being taught in several Jefferson Elementary School class rooms about Martin Luther King Jr.
"There were a lot of activities designed to let kids know how he struggled for the rights of African-Americans," Ma said.
He said another impression made on the visitors was the effort to develop the whole child, from physical exercise to learning international languages.
"As a whole the tour was very, very impressive," Ma said. "We look forward to working with the New Rochelle School District. We strongly believe that we do have a lot to share based on our cooperation."
The visitors first toured Isaac E. Young Middle School and then traveled to New Rochelle High School. They were treated to a lunch of Mexican food—including tacos, quesadillas, beans, rice and guacamole—at Jefferson before they listened to three musical groups from the school and were taken on a tour of the facility.
Topics of conversation between the educators and Superintendent Richard Organisiak ran the gamut from did they enjoy the lunch—they did—and how city government is separate from the school district—something that is different in China.
Organisciak, along with Jefferson Principal Kimmerly Nieves and the dean at Isaac Young, made a trip to China in November to observe their schools.
He said it was an chance to explore a learning partnership between the two cities.
"What are some of the differences?" Organisciak said. "This is an opportunity to be exposed to the best of what we have to offer."
From his trip to China, he said he learned the entire country takes education extremely seriously.
"They don't allow a tug of war on the level of support for schools," Organisciak said.
CORRECTION: This article was modified from a previous version to reflect the location and participants of the New Rochelle School District's trip to China in November.