Kingsport schools add Chinese instructor, telemedicine

Rick Wagner • Aug 1, 2013 at 11:26 PM

KINGSPORT — Chinese classes and in-school medical care are last-minute additions to the offerings at Dobyns-Bennett High School for the 2013-14 school year.

Select students at D-B this fall will have access to Mandarin Chinese classes taught by a native speaker, and all students at D-B and the city’s two middle schools can have access to telemedicine through Holston Medical Group.

The city Board of Education approved contracts and agreements for both ventures Thursday night.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dory Creech said that Wang (pronounced “Wong”) Xaiozheng arrived in Kingsport Wednesday and via a contract is staying with Brian and Natalie Pickett. Natalie Pickett is a chemistry teacher at D-B.

Wang is in Kingsport for the school year through the Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis.

Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said school officials, who originally cut a Chinese program through the institute down from four to two instructors before cutting it out entirely, learned in early to mid-July they still had funding for one position.

The cost to the school system is $18,000 plus a housing cost, transportation and insurance, all negligible, Creech said.

School starts Monday in the city. But since student schedules were already done before it was known Wang would be teaching at D-B this year, Creech said Wang will spend her first week or so working co-teaching with German teacher Jana Engle at D-B, getting acquainted with an American school’s teaching of foreign languages and with D-B students.

Wang also is well-versed in economics and social studies, Creech said.

By the second week, Creech said, the plan is for Wang to be teaching a class of about 10 students who are interested in taking Chinese and who can fit it into their schedules. By the spring semester, Creech said the plan is to have two larger classes.

Ailshie, BOE President Carrie Upshaw and BOE member Randy Montgomery said they are impressed with Wang, who is seeking her Ph.D and is a master teacher in China. She has taught English as a second language to international students, is married and has a young child back in China.

The board also unanimously approved a proposed telemedicine program, which will be a pilot at D-B and Robinson and Sevier middle schools starting in mid-September. The board approved a memorandum of understanding with HMG.

A company called integrateMD will provide the equipment and start-up costs, at no cost to the school system, for the TennTelMed pilot program.

Sullivan County Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said Thursday the county pilot, in the Sullivan North and/or Sullivan South area, is to begin in November.

Parents must sign a form opting into or out of the program that state Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, has been working on in Nashville for a few years.

An HMG nurse practitioner will “see” students either in person or through a high-speed computer connection, which officials said would save students and parents time and also more quickly identify students with highly contagious conditions.

“We’re excited about it,” Ailshie said, thanking all involved, including school nurse supervisor Vicki Johnston. “It’s another way to be world class.” Ailshie said the system will launch a communications plan about the pilot in weeks to come.

Montgomery said the concept “is to give parents an option” for the “totally voluntary” program.

Yennie said both pilots will be on the cutting edge of telemedicine in Tennessee schools.

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