Pei Ge Transitions to a “Supporting” Role at TNCS!

Now in its 10th year, The New Century School has grown . . . and grown up! But even though the TNCS student body now comprises children through 8th grade, let’s not forget how this wonderful school began—as a preschool! To celebrate TNCS’s beginning, Immersed dedicates the next few posts to the preprimary through 1st grade divisions.

Pei Ge: TNCS’s Preschool Coordinator

Enter Pei Ge, TNCS’s official Elementary and Preschool Immersion Coordinator. Ge Laoshi, who was a long-time TNCS teacher of K/1 as well as primary and preprimary (also see MD Secretary of State Visits TNCS!), saw a need that opened up during the pandemic and made up her mind to do something about it. “I didn’t get a lot of support during the pandemic. So I thought to myself, ‘next year, I can support K/1st teachers more based on my teaching experience’.’ We all know how difficult teachers of young children had it during the shutdown. Unlike older students, little ones can’t really get much out of an onscreen zoom. So, she brought her inspired idea to TNCS Co-Executive Director, Co-Founder Roberta Faux, who embraced it and suggested adding the preschool component as well, since the preprimary and primary teachers were also feeling the need for a little extra support. Ge Laoshi agreed, and here we are!

Her coordinator position is, just as she said, primarily revolves around helping the preprimary (both Chinese and Spanish immersion), primary, and K/1st teachers during weekly meetings as well as whenever they might need, but it encompasses a whole lot more. Other large components are developing the Chinese curriculum for students ages 2 through 1st grade, creating action plans for students who need behavior coaching, mentoring new teachers (including Joan Cui “Cui Laoshi” who took over Ge Laoshi’s Chinese immersion K/1st classroom), and liaising with parents. Then there are sundry responsibilities that come up here and there. For example, when new students enroll, she reminds teachers to send out welcome letters and present the TNCS signature yellow bag. She makes sure each class has daily tasks to complete. She also helps coordinate all the funs school events—Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Spring concert, Winter Concert, the Spring picnic, and so on. The 2021–2022 school year enrollment totals 87 preschool students and 30 K/1st students.

“It’s very busy, and I’m still learning since this is my first year,” said Ge Laoshi, about how she is finding the new role so far. “It’s totally different from what I did before with teaching students. Now I manage our preschool team, and it’s a transition for me. But I am enjoying the challenge!” She explains that some days are busier than others, with lots happening, and that she is learning to balance all of the priorities that come with such an important position and making sure teachers, students, and parents are fulfilled.

The curriculum development component is an especially large task that Ge Laoshi takes step by step. “I need to make sure each grade is on the same page and learning about the same topic, even though they are on different levels. So, all grades will learn about describing weather, for example. As the students grow older, they will still review the topics they have learned and build on that knowledge. They can step up a little each year.” She also interfaces with Li Laoshi, TNCS’s elementary and middle school teacher, so that when it’s time for students to transition to an upper division, Li Laoshi is familiar with where they are and what their Mandarin Chinese language needs might be. This continuity is certainly contributing to enhanced proficiency and is quite a boon for the Chinese program at TNCS.

Training the new Chinese assistants who come to TNCS is another task that Ge Laoshi assists with. She prepares teaching material like vocabulary cards for them. Currently, TNCS has Cui Laoshi (not to be confused with “Big Cui” or Joan) assisting in the primary classrooms. Cui Laoshi joined TNCS in March of 2021 after emigrating from Nei Mongol in China to the United States with her family.

One special perk is that when a classroom needs coverage such as if a teacher is out a particular day, Ge Laoshi can step back into her former role as teacher, an opportunity she thoroughly appreciates. “It’s really fun. I get the chance to play with the little ones, but I also get to step away and do other things,” she said.

Her biggest success so far as coordinator? “Supporting teachers,” she answers without hesitation. “They have me if they need me. I also want to create more events for the preschoolers, like the firetruck that came to visit last month. I want to do more next year such as walking field trips, seeing puppet shows, and visiting libraries for story time.”

In her spare time, Ge Laoshi like to do yoga, swim, and tend her yard.

Ge Laoshi will continue as Elementary and Preschool Immersion Coordinator for the foreseeable future, and the TNCS community is so lucky to have her! See what wonderful things she was able to pull together along with lead teachers and Miss Devon for the preschool Spring Concert on May 26th! In the meantime, she says, feel free to contact her about your student: “If you need my help or support, I will be there!”

Honoring a TNCS Original: Yurisan Gonzalez Celebrates 10 Years at TNCS!

Although it may be hard to believe, The New Century School has been operating for a decade—a decade of vibrant, multilingual learning; happy, thriving children; and milestone after milestone surpassed.

Aunque suene difícil de creer, The New Century School ha operado por más de una década.

And, if it wasn’t for TNCS primary teacher Elizabeth Salas (formerly from the preprimary division), an opportunity to celebrate another monumental TNCS milestone may well have been missed. At her behest, however, we honor a true TNCS original. Now entering her 10th year at the school, Yurisan Gonzalez has been with TNCS since the very beginning, joining the TNCS staff on November 23, 2011. TNCS Dean of Students Adriana DuPrau is the only other “OG.”

Y, si no fuese por la maestra de primary Elizabeth Salas, nos hubiésemos perdido una oportunidad de celebrar un hito monumental de TNCS. A su pedido, honramos a una original de la escuela. Ya entrando en su décimo año escolar, Yurisan Gonzalez ha sido parte de TNCS desde el comienzo, uniéndose al equipo el 23 de Noviembre del 2011. La Decana de Alumnos Adriana DuPrau es la otra unica otra “Original.”

Meet Yurisan Gonzalez!

Sra. Gonzalez came to Baltimore from her native Cuba in August 2011 years and began at TNCS 3 months later. When she joined TNCS, she started as an assistant in the preprimary Spanish class on the first floor of building south. To this day she still works in the preprimary Spanish class with lead teacher Mariana Garcia, who joined TNCS this school year.

Sra. Gonzalez llegó a Baltimore desde su natal Cuba en Agosto del 2011, y comenzó a trabajar en The New Century School tres meses después. Cuando comenzó en TNCS, Sra. Gonzalez trabajó como asistente en la clase de pre-primary en Español, en el primer piso del edificio Sur. Hasta la fecha, Sra. González aún es parte de la clase de pre-primary en Español con la profesora líder, Mariana Garcia, quien se unió a TNCS este año escolar. 

Having spent all this time at TNCS, Sra. Gonzalez chooses to stay because she loves working with children. “I’ve always wanted to work in a school,” she said. “When I came from my country, I was looking for a teaching opportunity where I could speak Spanish. I never thought it would be so easy to find. Every year is a new challenge with new opportunities to learn and grow. I love it. I love working with kids.”

En todo este tiempo trabajando en TNCS, Sra. Gonzalez decidió quedarse ya que le encanta trabajar con niños. “Siempre quise trabajar con niños”, respondió. “Cuando llegué desde mi país, estuve en búsqueda de una oportunidad de enseñar y de que pudiese hablar Español. Nunca pensé que sería tan fácil de encontrar. Cada año es un nuevo desafío con nuevas oportunidades para aprender y crecer. Me encanta. Me encanta trabajar con niños.”

Sra. Gonzalez has been with preprimary students the entire time with one yearlong stint with the primary students in Mr. Seller’s class. She greatly prefers the little ones, though, and is happiest in that environment. “What I like best about working with young children is how quickly they absorb and learn—their answers always amaze me. It also amazes me how loving and sweet they are.”

Sra. Gonzalez ha estado con los alumnos de pre-primary todo este tiempo, a excepción de un año en primary en la clase de Mr. Seller. Ella prefiere enseñar a los más pequeñitos, y es la más feliz  haciéndolo. “Lo que me gusta más acerca de trabajar con los más pequeños es ver cuán rápido ellos absorben y aprenden. Sus respuestas siempre me sorprenden. También me sorprende lo cariñosos y dulces que ellos son.”

When asked what she likes best about TNCS in particular, she did not hesitate: “Todo,” came the swift reply. “I like everything. The opportunities to participate in training and to advance. And I like the whole team—everyone is kind, they value what I do. I give thanks to The New Century School for giving me this opportunity.”

Al preguntarle qué es lo que más le gusta en particular acerca de TNCS, Sra. Gonzalez responde sin duda: “Todo”. “Me gusta todo. Las oportunidades de participar en entrenamientos y de avanzar. Y me gusta todo el equipo también – todos son amables, y valoran lo que hago. Doy gracias a The New Century School por darme esta oportunidad.”

Although she might not interact very much with parents, she was eager to convey how much she loves the children and loves taking care of them. “I am there to help them at any moment,” she said. She loves to dance and sing with them, to play games, to help them become independent, and to teach them Spanish, like, “por favor” and “gracias.”

Aunque Sra. Gonzalez no interactúa mucho con los apoderados, ella deja en claro cuánto le encanta trabajar con niños y adora cuidarlos.“Estoy aquí para ayudarlos en todo momento,” ella añade. A ella le gusta bailar y cantar con ellos, jugar juegos, y ayudarlos en su independencia así como también enseñarles Español, como por ejemplo: “por favor” y “gracias.”

In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, listening to music (salsa, merengue, and K-pop), and going for walks. Arroz congri (Cuban rice and black beans) is her favorite dish from home to cook. She also likes yucca and pork and chicken dishes. Perhaps someday, TNCS students will be treated to some of this delicious-sounding Cuban fare!

En su tiempo libre, Sra. González disfruta de cocinar, escuchar música (salsa, merengue y pop Koreano), y salir a caminar. Arroz Congri (arroz con frijoles Cubano) es su plato favorito para cocinar. También le gusta la gastronomía que incluya yuca, cerdo, y pollo. Quizas  algun dia, los estudiantes de TNCS tendrán la dicha de probar alguno de sus deliciosos platos Cubanos! 

She has saved all of the class photos since 2012. “I treasure them,” she said. Being able to see the classes through the years is something truly special. Thank you, Sra. Gonzalez, for your many years of care!

Sra. Gonzalez ha guardado todas las fotografías escolares desde el año 2012. “Las atesoro”, ella dice. Poder observar las clases a través de los años es algo verdaderamente especial. Muchas gracias, Sra. Gonzalez, por todos sus años de cuidado!

Sra. Gonzalez and Her Students in Pictures

Prepare for an avalanche of tiny, adorable faces—some might be your children from years ago!

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Immersed offers a very special thank you to Sra. Valas for her Spanish translations. Sra. Valas not only acted as interpreter during the interview with Sra. Gonzalez, she also helpfully provided written translations of this blog post—yet another Immersed first!