Northeast Yucai Oxford International High School, a first-of-its-kind public school, opened its doors in Shenyang, China, this fall. The school, a joint partnership between Oxford (Mich.) Community Schools and Northeast Yucai Education Group in Shenyang, allows American and Chinese high school students to attend and earn dual degrees for each country.
"It's not a sister school," says Oxford's superintendent, William Skilling. "It's a sister school who partnered with a sister school to create a whole new school. We have ownership in it, they have ownership in it, and a private investor from China, does as well." The partners also have ownership over the school's curriculum, which Skilling says will emphasize how to work as a team, create and invent in a less test-driven environment.
Fifty Chinese students are currently enrolled and, according to Skilling, the school gives them an opportunity to improve their English-speaking skills, study abroad in the Oxford school district, and earn an American high school degree, which will increase their chances of acceptance to an American university. The Oxford district will offer 20 full-tuition scholarships for local Michigan students to attend NYO in fall 2012.
This partnership isn't the first global initiative from this district, which has 5,000 students in Michigan's northern Oakland County. Since joining the district in 2007, Skilling has been guiding the district to go global by implementing a mandatory 11-year world language requirement, and the district as a whole is on track to be certified International Baccalaureate by 2012. As the district moves toward the IB pedagogy, this year, teachers are introducing "flip" teaching, in which the students educate themselves at home and questions are asked in class.
With the district's new endeavors well underway, Skilling has told his staff that this school year's motto is to have fun and celebrate.
"Never before have I seen a district that has asked so much of its staff in such a short period of time, and never before have I seen a staff rise to the occasion so greatly," says Skilling. "This year, we need to celebrate and have fun. We've got to take a breather and realize we've all done a good job.