By Juan Soto
Chilean educators got a taste of the American educational system. Actually, they got a taste of Oakland Garden’s PS 203, where students put on a show to welcome the South American professionals.
The pre-K to fifth-grade students entertained the audience with their best weapons: Performances by the only accordion club in Queens’ public schools, a story presented by the Art Club, action rhythms by the Dance Club, a Korean song to celebrate the Lunar New Year and a concert by the violin club which performed Beethoven’s “Symphony number 9.”
The tear-jerker moment inevitably came when more than a hundred students sang a popular Chilean song in Spanish.
“We had tears in our eyes,” said Miguel Flores in Spanish after the show at the school’s auditorium. “The whole show was spectacular.”
The visit from the Chilean delegation was part of a program organized by the Center for Educational Innovation and Public Educations Association, a city-based nonprofit that creates successful schools. PS 203 is a Blue Ribbon School, an award given by the U.S. Department of Education to academic institutions recognizing public and private schools based on overall achievement or progress of closing gaps in schools where at least 40 percent of the student population is considered disadvantaged.
Flores pointed out how surprised he was when he discovered, “how the students know the different cultures of the world.”
The idea behind the visit was for the Chilean educators to learn about the different approaches to education in the city’s public schools system.
“We got the feeling that the kids, the students are really happy here,” said Marcela Carrillo, principal at Liceo Amanda Labarca in Santiago. “And you can tell they are being taught with all this love and respect.”
After the show the South American educators visited the classrooms, the cafeteria, the library and the rest of the school’s premises.
For Flores, “the way the students are being taught here demonstrates one can do so many different things so the kids learn.”
“This is so special for our children,” said Carole Nussbaum, PS 203’s principal. “Many of our students come here and they don’t speak English, and by the time they are in second- or third-grade, you can see what the school does for them.”
Nussbaum, who has been the school’s principal for the last 23 years, said it was “wonderful” to have educators visit the school from other places besides China and Korea.
PS 203 has a large population of Asian students.
“Students here are so disciplined,” Carrillo said. “And that’s very crucial for the kids’ education.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4564.