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Pre-K Mandarin Classes May Be Coming to Upper West Side School

By Emily Frost | December 16, 2016 4:13pm
 The arts-focused P.S. 191 wants to add a Mandarin program for its pre-K and kindergarten classes, officials said.
The arts-focused P.S. 191 wants to add a Mandarin program for its pre-K and kindergarten classes, officials said.
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DNAinfo/Emily Frost

UPPER WEST SIDE — Preschoolers and kindergartners could be learning Mandarin next year at a local public school, education officials said. 

P.S. 191, the pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school on West 61st Street, wants to offer the language program next year for those students, making it the first school in District 3 to offer Mandarin classes, Department of Education Superintendent Ilene Altschul said at a Community Education Council 3 meeting this week.  

“We’re exploring the possibility of adding a Mandarin foreign language program next year and will be reviewing our budget in the coming months to see if it’s a possibility," P.S. 191 Principal Lauren Keville said.

"I’m dedicated to ensuring students receive a high-quality education and that includes providing a variety of rigorous enrichment programs as part of our comprehensive curriculum," said 

In initial discussions earlier this year, the school considered offering Mandarin to all grades, but decided the program should start with only the pre-K and kindergarten classes, Altschul explained. 

With only one teacher and given the difficulty of learning and mastering the language, P.S. 191's School Leadership Team determined that teaching just one class per week in each grade wouldn't be as effective, she said. 

"Teaching Mandarin one period a week won’t have the impact of anyone learning much," Altschul said.

Instead, if the program moves forward, the classes would occur two to three times per week for the younger students with "intense instruction as a foundation," she noted.

The program still needs budget approval and a teacher, Altschul added. 

The school is hoping that the nearby Mandarin immersion program for preschoolers at HudsonWay Immersion School on Riverside Boulevard will serve as a feeder to P.S. 191. 

In addition to adding the new language program, P.S. 191 is offering a new gifted-and-talented program next year, as well as relocating to a brand-new building in the Riverside Center.