Draper Elementary students, staff and faculty celebrated being named a Confucius Classroom April 3 and with the honor, the school will receive an annual $10,000 grant from the Chinese educational ministry.
The Confucius Classroom grant is a partnership between Draper Elementary, the University of Utah’s Confucius Center and the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language with the purpose to support Chinese dual immersion teachers, students and programs as well as to promote Chinese language and cultural understanding.
Draper Elementary is one of six schools selected this year for the grant-partnership because of the maturity of its dual language program, said Eric Chipman, U of U Confucius Center’s assistant director.
“It’s an exemplary program that other schools can look up to and see the quality teachers and their leadership and students learning and showing their achievement through great test scores,” he said.
Long-time Draper teacher KLynn Johnson agreed.
“The language immersion program is just an awesome opportunity for students,” she said.
Chipman said the $10,000 grant is annually renewed indefinitely at the discretion of the Chinese government. Each year, Draper Elementary will submit its budget to the U, which then will approve and disperse the funds.
Draper Elementary Principal Piper Riddle said that the school leadership team will determine how the funds will be used each year. This year, they decided to ask for five SMARTboards to help with language instruction, as well as a 10 mini iPad lab, applications and accessories.
“This allows for interaction between the language teachers and the students and gives them a chance to practice in small groups,” Riddle said. “The school receives textbook funds to support our language program, an interactive cultural display for our students, and funding for language.”
Chipman said that part of the idea behind the grant is to help the entire school.
“We want this to be an opportunity for all students to learn about China and the culture, the language, the arts, the calligraphy and all the great benefits the country has and can offer,” he said.
Part of this year’s $10,000 was to invite Chinese acrobats and performers through China’s Bureau of Assemblies to celebrate the partnership.
“We are proud of the high quality language immersion program that we have developed at Draper Elementary and we are grateful for the honor of becoming a Confucius Classroom,” Riddle said.
Lone Peak Elementary in Sandy also has been named a Confucius Classroom and a ceremony is planned to celebrate the honor in the fall.