February 16 is the beginning of the Chinese New Year, notes Polk County High School Chinese teacher Qiaoying Lou. Lou also enthusiastically mentions that the day is her 51st birthday in the Lunar-solar Chinese calendar.
What a way to end a wonderful week for Lou as she hosted her 2nd annual Chinese New Year’s Celebration on Feb. 12 at PCHS, giving students and community memebers in attendance a glimpse of what it would be like to live in her homeland of China.
Lou has been employed by Polk County High School as the Mandarin Chinese teacher since 2013. She is scheduled to return in June to her native country and school, where she will begin teaching English to students there. She has also been awarded a “Certificate of Star Teacher” for the 2016-17 school year, an honor bestowed upon only one percent of the Chinese Guest Teachers across the United States. Lou has shared her Chinese culture with students through the use of music, videos and news broadcasts.
Sadie Allen, a junior who has taken Chinese since the sixth grade, said that through Lou’s tutelage, she and her fellow students were given the opportunity to take the HSK 1, 2 and 3 tests. Since they all passed, they will now take an oral exam, the HSKK, in order to apply for scholarships to study abroad in China for a semester.
“Mrs. Lou presses us in her class, so that these opportunities can become a reality for her students,” Allen said. “We might even have the chance to go to China like the four students in 2016.”
Lou’s yearly Chinese celebration enables participants, families, fellow teachers and members of the community to experience an authentic Chinese New Year’s celebration complete with festive decorations, student work samples, entertainment and excellent Chinese cuisine.
In reference to the celebration, Allen added that “in our sleepy county, people just don’t have the time to get out or experience other cultures. This presentation, however, offered a wonderful opportunity to teach my loved ones about the language and country I hold dear. Both my mother and father attended, and they had a wonderful time watching me host and perform in the GongFu act as well as singing a Chinese song while doing sign language.”
“Qiaoying Lou is an exceptional teacher and wonderful role model in our school,” said PCHS Spanish teacher Rachel Hall. “She is a master teacher who encourages her students to excel both in reading and writing Chinese as well as speaking and understanding Chinese. Students under her instruction have won and placed in the top rankings in statewide competition for the past four years.
“She is untiring and willing to spend hours of her own time preparing students for competitions and testing. She is knowledgeable of the culture, the school systems and societies in the U.S. and can easily navigate the cultural differences between the educational expectations in Chinese school systems and the U.S. ones. Having nearly five years in our U.S. school system has given her great insight into the differences and similarities between our two cultures. She is the ideal choice for a ‘Star Teacher,’ as she has been able to share both American culture and broad teaching experience with her students and fellow teachers.”
“Our Chinese program has afforded so many Polk County students the opportunity to expand their cultural understanding in ways that would otherwise have been difficult in a traditional setting,” said PCHS Principal Dr. Brandon Schweitzer. “All of us at PCHS feel honored to have worked with Mrs. Lou these past few years and wish her much luck on her next endeavor.”