Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School: Croton’s Mandarin-Teaching Public School

Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School, Croton-on-Hudson
A public school with 550 students andMandarin classes for students in grades 5-8

“The real enemy of education is status quo,” says Michael Plotkin, the assistant principal at PVC. So five years ago, his school looked to shake up the French or Spanish foreign language choices by adding a class in Mandarin. “People are starting to realize that romance languages, while great, don’t have as much significance in the 21st century,” he contends. “As the world changes, so does what kids learn and what they should learn to do. There’s something to be said for getting to know a language associated with one billion people.”

The program, which encompasses 20 to 25 students per grade, officially starts in 6th grade. (In fifth grade, all students take classes in French, Spanish, and Mandarin to help them choose which one to study the following year.) 

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Not only has the program become “popular with the community,” Plotkin says, but it has led to the school teaching more about foreign cultures as well. The school runs an exchange program in which middle-school students from China come to Croton to attend school and stay with a family for about a week. The school also  hosts guest teachers from China. 

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