This year the Hamilton Fulton Montgomery PTECH is again breaking new ground for education in the region, offering a Chinese course to its students.
In years prior, HFM PTECH students had a Spanish course offered at FMCC as their only option for filling their high school language requirement. The Chinese class, held at PTECH’s Jansen Avenue school, is now open to all students beginning in their sophomore year.
According to the 2017 National Foreign Language Enrollment Survey, only 3.75 percent of high schools in New York state offer Chinese. Principal Mike Dardaris said adding Chinese is true to PTECH’s approach to teaching and learning.
“We’re not just teaching our students the language or about the food, culture, and music of China. We’re teaching them to be good global citizens,” Dardaris said.
He said he hopes the fact that students will leave PTECH with knowledge of Mandarin Chinese will help regional business partners in their global pursuits. “I’ve heard GLOBALFOUNDRIES executives say that the Chinese language barrier inhibits some business dealings,” Dardaris said. “It certainly seems there is a need for this skill, and HFM PTECH wants to ensure we are preparing students for what our business partners really need.”
For the 2018-19 school year, PTECH brought on Ping Huang part time. She is working to complete her New York teaching certification and her master’s degree in Chinese Education from Clarkson University this year.
Though she has lived in the United States for nine years, Huang grew up in a small village in South China and attended graduate school in Beijing.
Huang comes from a teaching background, as her mother was the principal of her village school. “Her passion for teaching and unconditional love for students definitely gave me lots of inspiration. I think that’s why I wanted to become a teacher when I first chose my profession back in China,” she said.
Huang said she is adjusting nicely to the area and the school. “Johnstown gives me the feeling of home. Also, the philosophy of PTECH resonates with my teaching philosophy: connect students’ learning to real problems,” she said.
Janet Ricci, a sophomore from Fonda in the advanced manufacturing pathway, said she appreciates that PTECH is offering something different that not everyone learns in school. “Learning a new language is cool and interesting, but it is challenging,” she said, adding that the Chinese culture is beautiful.
Ricci admits the Chinese symbols can be difficult to learn because they have multiple meanings. But, as a student in the advanced manufacturing pathway, she believes it will be worth the investment because it could be helpful in her career.