Named for its original location in Point Loma, Barnard Asian Pacific Language Academy hasn’t changed its name, despite having moved from 930 Barnard St. in Point Loma to 2445 Fogg St. in Pacific Beach.
Principal Edward Park toured the grounds of the newly relocated magnet school, formerly Bayview Terrace Elementary, enthusing about Barnard’s new digs, its progressive program, being one of six schools in the Mission Bay “cluster” and its role in the larger community.
“We want local people, local businesses to come by and support the schools,” said Park. “We’ve got a very special community. I know for a fact these parents want to make positive changes in this community. And we’re doing everything we can to be as special as possible and create opportunities for everyone, like the Mandarin program.”
The most-spoken language in the world, Mandarin is the primary language taught at Barnard, whose students spend half the day learning it and its thousands of written characters.
The idea behind Barnard’s programming is that, through integration with the Mandarin Chinese culture, including the arts, music and literature, students will develop the ability to successfully use their knowledge to think and act globally and become thoughtful, responsible and successful global citizens.
The blending of a world-language program with a challenging and well-rounded academic program also taught in English enables Barnard students to face and triumph over the challenges of the 21st century, said Park.
“It supports the mission of all our schools in Mission Bay, which is to be globalized,” he said.
The Mandarin Chinese magnet program started out six years ago in Point Loma in a 65-year-old rundown facility with just 130 students.
“It was a school that wasn’t going anywhere,” said Park. “We instituted the Mandarin language program and got a whole slew of partnerships and students coming from different places all over San Diego County. Now we’re looking at about 430 students with a waiting list — and we’ll probably even extend it more next year.”
Park showed off Barnard’s office lobby, which is full of plaques and photos honoring the school and its achievements. The principal has spent a lot of time and effort redecorating the school, hanging out lanterns and adding other touches of Chinese culture like dragons (symbolic of renewal) and lots of red coloring (symbolizing new life).
Park said a new educational approach is being championed at the school.
“Were trying to make sure our teachers interact with our students rather than a lecture style,” he said. “We want children surrounding teachers instead of the teacher here, and students over there. That creates space and we want collaboration. We want students to be engaged. We want a lot of conversation happening, not like the olden days where teachers continued to talk and kids just listened. Now we want to bring out their creativity and their innovative mind set.”
Barnard also has the latest technological educational innovations, like Promethean, a high-powered display whiteboard that combines touch interactivity with integrated sound.
“It brings the students closer to our innovative style of learning,” said Park, demonstrating the use of the new high-tech board.
“I just love doing Google Earth,” he said, focusing the large Promethean screen in on the Great Wall of China, demonstrating just how cutting-edge an educational tool the system can be.
Commenting on his new school and larger, more modern facilities, Park said, “It’s awesome. I love it. It’s bigger, better. We have a wealth of energy. We’re very happy about it.”