CHATHAM, NJ - The School District of the Chathams has one of the best K through 12 STEM programs in the state and that's what 19 principals from the Zhejiang Province in China came to see on Wednesday.
Last May, Danielle Dagounis, Chatham's Design & Technology (STEM) supervisor, visited China with other New Jersey districts to compare STEM programs.
"It was actually very interesting because I didn't know what education looked like in China," Dagounis said of her trip. "To see that they do like we do, teach the subjects separately but also are integrating STEM the way we are in this district. The new facilities they were building were very, very similar to ours actually. I guess it was validating as to what we're doing in comparison to what some of the high-powered STEM countries are doing as well in education.
"What I found interesting was that they were very impressed with how early we start in the school district. We start our STEM education in kindergarten."
That's why the Chinese delegation first visited the Chatham Middle School in the morning and then headed over to Milton Avenue School in the afternoon. Chatham's commitment to "STEM for All" earned it a statewide program excellence award last year.
"We're actually one of the few, if only, K through 12 programs in the state of New Jersey," Dagounis said. "We're the fourth school they've visited in New Jersey."
The Chinese delegation of principals arrives for a visit at the Chatham Middle School
Dagounis explained that the state of New Jersey has partnered up with the Zhejiang Province in China to create a sister-school partnership.
"What that means is that we have a sister school out in China and we're going to try and do collaborative projects with them," Dagounis said.
Chatham High Mandarin students Charlotte Jones, Cynthia Zhang, Jacob Mahon, Anna Liu, Selina Fan, Braden Mellina, Peter Wang and Tony Shen were on hand to greet the Chinese delegation.