There is a famous line in the Confucian text Meng Zi,《孟子》that says “one cannot have both fish and bear paw” (鱼与熊掌不可兼得). In the fourth century BCE, fish and bear paw were both considered to be culinary delicacies, so perhaps the above quotation might have as its English equivalent, “you can’t eat your cake and have it too.” Like many of you, I have always had a vision of CAIS being both a leader in Chinese immersion education and also a leader in best practices and results of monolingual schools. Selfishly, I don’t want our kids to achieve Chinese language and cultural proficiency by sacrificing anything that their peers at monolingual schools are getting. I want both fish and bear paw for CAIS.
For this reason I am delighted—giddy, even—to announce the appointment of CAIS’s next Head of Early Childhood (Preschool – 1st grade), Ms. Qian, Wei (surname: Qian, pronounced “Chien”). Wei is a talented educator and school leader with both immersion school and monolingual school experience.
I first met Wei several years ago when I visited Yuming Charter School in Oakland. In immersion circles, Yuming Charter is a leading school—it is both a California Distinguished School and a National Blue Ribbon School. As a founding faculty member at Yuming, Wei played many roles, from early childhood teacher to instructional coach to assessment coordinator to dean of students (the Chinese term for this is 多才多艺 or “Renaissance woman”). I have actively followed Wei’s career with interest, attending several presentations she delivered at national conferences; she impressed me as smart and thoughtful, both high IQ and high EQ (another instance of fish and bear paw, perhaps?).
From Yuming Charter, Wei moved to BASIS Independent School in Fremont, California. Recognized for her talent as a leader in her own right, BASIS Independent—which is not an immersion school—appointed her as early years Dean of Students. There she continued to build on her strength from Yuming, developing and implementing multi-tiered academic and behavioral support systems for all students.
Wei holds a bachelor of arts degree in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from Shanghai University and a master’s of education in Foreign Language Curriculum and Teaching from DePaul University. Excited to begin at CAIS this coming school year, she shares,
“It is an honor to join this extraordinary school community with such persevering students, an extremely dedicated staff, and a supportive school community! I am committed to uniting my experience, my openness to learn, and my student-centered approach to support every student at CAIS and to build strong relationships with students, staff, and parents. Together we will empower our Firedragons to shape their future and the future of our community and our nation!”
It is rare to find an educational leader with deep educational leadership experience in both immersion and non immersion schools. I feel as though at CAIS we are getting both fish and bear paw.