Albina Head Start- Innovative Mandarin Program

Albina Head Start has been serving low-income children and their families throughout Portland for over five decades.  Currently, 834 children participate in HS and EHS center-based services and 251 children, families and prenatal mothers participate in home-based services.  Albina Head Start Mandarin teacher

Throughout the years, like many head start programs, we have been proud of the many accomplishments of our children, parents, and staff.  Yet, we feel that our innovative and creative approaches to learning and offering experiences that prepare our children for the future are key ingredients of our longevity and success.   Our Mandarin language program is a perfect example that embodies our mission: ‘To prepare children and families to succeed locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.’

Introducing a foreign language concept was first conceived in 2012 when Ron Herndon sought partnerships to offer this opportunity to Head Start children. A partnership was formed with Confucius Institute that would eventually lead to native Chinese students obtaining VISA’s to work as teacher assistants in our program.

Fast forward, five years later:

  • Our head start and EHS children are communicating in Mandarin;
  • A partnership with PPS has led to Mandarin kindergarten through fourth-grade classes in an inner NE Portland elementary school;
  • A delegation of Albina staff was invited to visit China!

Innovative–we are the only Head Start program in the nation to offer this foreign language to our children and, has impacted a school district to reexamine their concept of language acquisition and equity.

The horizon looks bright:

  • We are working towards the goal of all of our Head Start children being exposed to the Mandarin language.
  • We are looking forward to working with our PPS partners to continue to expand Mandarin classrooms through high school.
  • We are looking forward to the cultural and physical exchange of learning opportunities between Albina HS and Guiyang Preschool Education College.