Four excited students from the McKay School’s Educational Leadership and Foundations (EdLF) program were able to experience the department’s first administrative internship in Guangzhou, China. The four interns spent the month of June shadowing five principals at Clifford International Schools. The aims of the internship program were to help the students expand their worldviews by enhancing their cultural awareness and to aid their professional skills by providing what President Worthen called “inspiring learning” experiences.
“Our schools are becoming more diverse, with over 52 languages spoken in the schools in our five partnership districts. In addition, most of our partnership elementary schools have language immersion programs, including many Chinese immersion programs,” explained EdLF department chair Pamela Hallam. “It is imperative that we prepare our aspiring administrators for the future they will face. This ‘immersion’ into the Chinese culture [helped] them in this process.”
Each intern was placed with a mentor principal at one of the Clifford International Schools, which is directed by Xinyou Zhang, a PhD graduate of the EdLF program. Clifford International Schools is a five-school compound within the Clifford Estates, which includes an elementary school, middle school, high school, and two bilingual schools. The interns shadowed the school administrators, accepted administrative assignments, observed classroom instruction, and attended meetings.
“When we first got there, we met with Dr. Zhang and all five of the principals. It was really special. Dr. Zhang was wearing his BYU shirt and was so proud to be a graduate of the EdLF department,” shared Hallam. “The five principals told us their story, why they were there, and how they felt like they were making a difference with students. We are all about students learning. It was fun to hear them talk about what they have tried to do and how they are incorporating new ideas and strategies, what is working and what isn’t working, what they do here, and how we can collaborate. It was so gratifying to watch our four interns just eating it up and assuming their roles.”
Each of the students gained different, enriching experiences from their time in China.
“Many of the concepts and practices that I had acquired during the prior year in my classes at BYU I saw happening in the schools and was reminded of their value. I saw that communication amongst everyone in the school has a huge impact,” said Angie Jones, one of the interns from the trip. “At times, language was a barrier. It was important to make sure that everyone was understanding of one another and working toward a common goal.”
“I was impressed by the Chinese teacher’s dedication to helping students; these teachers spend most of the working week, and often come in on weekends, working with students,” shared Heather Bali, another intern. “I was also impressed with the diligence of the students. The students I interacted with worked extremely hard in their classes and often spent many hours after school and on the weekends studying.”
While the culture was different from what the interns were accustomed to, they adjusted quickly and enthusiastically.
“It was so gratifying to see our administrative interns in action within a totally different and challenging context,” said David Boren, chair of the school leadership committee. “While the school building, classroom, food, uniforms, transportation, and other physical characteristics of the school were quite different, it was powerful to see that the same principles of effective education and leadership were very relevant in any context.”
The EdLF department hopes to continue developing its relationship with Clifford International Schools and continue providing this internship opportunity for students.
Writer: Janine Swart
Contact: Cindy Glad, (801) 422-1922