Defense Department grant will offer Chinese instruction at Robert Smalls Middle School

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The National Security Education Office, part of the U.S. Department of Defense, has awarded a $256,200 grant to the Beaufort County School District to offer Mandarin Chinese instruction at Robert Smalls Middle School.
The grant will fund Project CLIMB, the Critical Language Initiative in Mandarin in Beaufort. Nearly 25 percent of the 475 students at Robert Smalls Middle come from military-connected families.
“We recognize that significant language gains are made at an early age and are proud to work with Beaufort on this endeavor and to enhance K-12 language education,” said David Edwards, the program manager at the Defense Language and National Security Education Office, which works to strengthen and coordinate strategic foreign language programs for students from military families.
Superintendent Valerie Truesdale said the Defense Department grant was timely because Congress recently cut its financial support for foreign language programs.
“With countries and cultures more closely connected every day, it’s vitally important for students to have access to quality foreign language programs at all stages of their educations,” Truesdale said. “With this new addition, we will now offer Mandarin Chinese at two elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. Students who complete the entire course of study will have a valuable skill that they can use in further college studies, in business careers or in the military.”
Five new Chinese teachers from various parts of China will join the district’s Mandarin language staff for the upcoming school year. As many as 200 additional students will be taking Mandarin this year across the district, officials said.
The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Educational Partnership, which facilitated the grant review and selection process, provides support and resources to schools throughout the U.S. that serve children of military families.
Nationwide, more than a million school-age children are from military families, with the majority attending public schools. Beaufort County schools serve many children whose parents are based at the Marine Corps Air Station, the Parris Island Recruiting Depot and the U.S. Naval Hospital.