Castor Valley's New Project

Castor Valley ES connects with school in China

There is an exciting new project happening at Castor Valley ES. The aim is to develop a long-term and sustainable relationship between Castor Valley students and staff and their counterparts at Shuanglin Primary School in Chengdu, China.

In spite of the pandemic, students and staff have met virtually on several occasions. The inaugural meeting of the teachers and the students in this global partnership pilot project took place on May 29th. There are 11 students currently involved, five Grade 5 students from teacher Kim Tustin’s class and six Grade 6 students from teacher Sarah Cimetta’s class. These students are essentially part of a school club and are involved because of their initiative, empathy and openness to others, as well as their competence with online learning.

“In February of this school year I never would have imagined that I would end the year teaching from home, much less that I would be spending weekday mornings chatting with, and fostering friendships among students and teachers from across the globe in my own kitchen.”
- Kim Tustin, Grade 5 teacher, Castor Valley ES

To date, the students have been working on several assignments starting with a focus on themselves, and extending to their home and then their community. Both the Chinese and Canadian students have made videos which they have shared to learn about each other and to foster friendship and understanding. The goal is to have fun learning about each other’s life and culture.

Principal Chris Toivonen sees the project as important for building positive relationships and understanding; the school community has responded very positively. As Principal Toivonen points out: “Our job as educators is to provide safe learning opportunities that are positive and fun and recognize that learning can extend beyond our school’s walls and curriculum to reach across the world.”

Teachers Sarah Cimetta and Kim Tustin are excited by the students’ learning. The students are paying attention to communication skills by speaking clearly and using plain vocabulary that avoids slang or jargon. While the Chinese students have good English speaking skills, some of the Canadian students are now trying to respond with some Chinese expressions. In Sarah Cimetta’s view, the project “opened up our eyes to new experiences and knowledge about Chengdu, China, and to new learning platforms to communicate and develop connections with each other.”

Members of the OCENET team including Executive Director Geoff Best and Program Director Constantine Ioannou and International Education Coordinator Sean Oussoren, have provided support and facilitated the international connections to work in collaboration with the staff at Castor Valley ES and the educators in Chengdu to launch this cross-cultural project.

OCDSB Elementary Principals interested in starting an international club with students in China are invited to contact [email protected].

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