Greenville Public Schools Chinese Immersion Program

Greenville Public Schools Chinese Immersion Program

Program Description

Greenville Public Schools is located in one of Michigan's prime living areas, between Grand Rapids and Lansing. The district includes the city of Greenville and parts of seven townships in three counties in West Michigan. It has a history of strong education, many recreational areas, and industrial opportunities. Proximity to Grand Rapids provides many cultural, recreational, and educational advantages. It is 133.6 square miles in size and has a population of about 18,000. Our immersion program is the only one in our intermediate school district.

Plans for Mandarin immersion in Greenville began with the district’s participation in the China Bridge Program. A partnership between our school district and the College Board’s Chinese Guest Teacher Program was formed, and the first group of students began learning Mandarin in 2012. Staff, community members, and parents work together to ensure that immersion students receive the education necessary to participate as responsible global citizens in an ever-changing world. Currently, more than 300 students are learning about Chinese language and culture in grades K–6.

Students in grades K–3 are taught by Eastern/Western teaching teams, using a 50/50 model. Eastern teachers focus on Chinese language and math instruction, and Western teachers focus on English Language Arts. The language for science and social studies instruction varies from grade to grade, depending on the content. Immersion students in grades 4 and 5 focus on language proficiency development as well as reading and writing in Chinese, in addition to receiving core math instruction in Mandarin. Cultural competence is also an essential focus. 2018–19 is the first year for Chinese immersion at the middle school level. Students in grade 6 receive core instruction in Mandarin one hour each day along with a year-long literacy block and a semester-long language intensive block.

Future plans include options for an Advanced Placement/University Dual Enrollment track and a vocational track that will pair with our work study and internship programs to prepare students to use their language skills locally on the job as soon as they graduate. Both secondary school experiences will give students the opportunity to earn Michigan’s Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas. The developing AP/Dual Enrollment track aims to send students to college with credits equivalent to a college minor in Chinese Language.

Program Features

Community support for our immersion program is strong. Parents, community members, and local businesses see the value of graduating students who are bi-literate and ready to use their language skills on the job or at the university level. The pride and delight in the accomplishments of the students is evident throughout the school district and the community, particularly at our annual Chinese New Year Celebration.

Teachers, both Eastern and Western, provide not only rigorous and relevant classroom instruction but also a wide variety of enrichment experiences including clubs, field trips, and leadership groups that connect students to Chinese culture and allow them to practice their language skills with native speakers on a regular basis. Highlights include our Moon Festival celebration, yo yo club, student leader’s group, Chicago Chinatown trips, restaurant nights, and sister classroom partnerships.   

Our program has received grant funding from a variety of local sources, which has allowed the district to invest in important program-building experiences and materials that could not be paid for from our general fund. Grants received have provided guest teachers, classroom libraries, essential professional development for teachers, and necessary curricular materials.

Our program promise is that immersion students will meet the same learning goals as their non-immersion peers, along with developing a high level of Chinese language proficiency. Achievement data for immersion students is carefully monitored to ensure that we are delivering on that promise. As of Spring 2018, immersion students remain on pace with their non-immersion peers on standardized English Language tests and consistently score ahead of their non-immersion peers on standardized math tests.

Schools and Contacts in the Mandarin Immersion Program

District Immersion Programming Coordinator
Hollie Stephenson
1414 Chase Street, Greenville, MI 48838
Responsible for program advocacy, community connections, staff development, grants, and special projects at all levels of instruction

Walnut Hills Elementary School (K–5)
Chinese Immersion Students, Grades K–5: 270
Susan Ayres, Principal
712 N. Walnut Street, Greenville, MI 48838

Greenville Middle School (6–8)
Chinese Immersion Students in Grade 6: 35
7th and 8th grade added in 2019 and 2020 respectively
Mary Beth Taylor, Principal
1321 Chase Street, Greenville, MI 48838