The foreign language program at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) received a significant boost on Feb. 10, when the Consul General of Japan in Atlanta visited the school to present a check for $30,000 to help bolster its Japanese language program.
Consul General Kazuyuki Takeuchi made the presentation during a celebration of Japanese culture that included dance performances and a multicultural welcome by students at CSKYWLA, a nationally STEM-certified, single-gender school that serves female students in grades 6-12 and recognizes proficiency in world language as a door to future possibilities. The gift is from a grant program established by The Japan Foundation, working in coordination with the Japanese Consul General.
The grant provides $30,000 this year to support the salary of a Japanese teacher (Kimie Briem) with an option to renew the grant for a second term.
“The Japan Foundation is impressed with CSKYWLA’s commitment to empowering every girl to learning the Japanese language and preparing young women for a more global society,” Takeuchi told students and staff. “I am happy to present this check and support the Japanese language program.”
CSKYWLA Principal Eulonda Washington envisions a future in which every student will graduate with an Atlanta Public Schools diploma and a Georgia Seal of Biliteracy. When students begin sixth grade, they rotate through four, nine-week world language courses: French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. At the end of sixth grade, each student identifies a language of focus for the remainder of their tenure at CSKYWLA and progresses through the high school world language coursework, concluding with the Advanced Placement-level language class during their senior year.
Dr. Margaret McKenzie, director of Multilingual Programs and Services, said APS’ mission is to prepare every young woman for college, career, and life. To accomplish the mission, she and Principal Washington collaborated to secure funding for the German and Japanese language programs.
Given an ever-increasingly global economy, Dr. McKenzie noted that it is vital for young people to learn how to effectively communicate and collaborate with people who speak languages other than English.
According to Dr. McKenzie, over 50 percent of the world speaks more than one language fluently. However, in the United States, only 20 percent of people are able to converse and communicate in more than one language.
In addition to increasing brain capacity and earning potential, Dr. McKenzie also said language learning supports the development of intercultural competence, which is the ability to interact with different people of diverse backgrounds.
“Language learning is powerful, and APS remains committed to world language programming. This year, with the introduction of Japanese, CSKYWLA has the distinction of providing four world languages with four incredible world language teachers,” she said. “This places young women on a trajectory for one of the highest honors in world languages in the state of Georgia: the seal of biliteracy.
“Our vision for the young women of CSK is a future filled with access to incredible opportunities and success. Through new world language programming at CSK, students are no longer mere STEMinists, but globally conscious, bi-literate STEMinists who will have the power to change our future.”