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!”