A new state charter school — the first public dual language Japanese-English school in Georgia, is to open its doors to students residing in the state in August 2018.
The International Charter Academy of Georgia (ICAG) was approved by the State Charter Schools Commission on Aug. 30 to develop a brick-and-mortar location in Gwinnett County.
According to the commission, the petition presented by the academy “met all requirements or rule and law and indicate that the school will operate as a high-quality charter school…consistent with the educational goals of Georgia.”
The school is currently recruiting up to 300 children for grades K-5 who must have been born between Sept. 2007 and Sept. 2012. Although the location of the new school is yet to be determined, it most likely will be near Peachtree Corners in Gwinnett County, according to an announcement from its board of directors.
The announcement added that the students are to “experience instruction infused with elements of Japanese culture,” and that a town hall meeting for interested parents is to be held on Oct. 17 at 9:15 a.m. at 5505 Winters Chapel Road.
The ICAG is to use the “dual language model for Japanese and English,” which calls for the ratio of Japanese to English changing as students move through the grades.
Robert Johnson, an attorney with the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC and a member of the school’s board of directors, sent Global Atlanta an email saying:
“Along with the strong business and economic relationship with Japan represented by the more than 600 Japanese companies employing approximately 40,000 Georgians, and our own Georgia companies like AFLAC, Coca-Cola and Delta doing substantial business in Japan, our cultural and social ties have also enjoyed significant growth.
“We have more families living in Georgia with children who enjoy a direct familial relationship to Japan. ICAGeorgia will now provide an affordable opportunity for more of these children to enjoy a powerful Japanese language “immersion” program. A state charter school dual language opportunity to help more students learn the Japanese language will only further set Georgia apart as a partner with Japan in every respect.”
Jessica Cork, vice president of YKK Corp. of America, who also is a member of the board, told Global Atlanta:
“It is often said that we are preparing our children now for jobs that have not been invented yet. But one thing is certain as our kids face an uncertain future: that our children will be working across borders, cultures, and languages to an extent we cannot imagine today. The best gift you can give your child is the ability to communicate with someone from a different country and the empathy required to understand what it’s like to have to adapt to a new language and a new culture.”
Georgia State Rep. Tom Taylor, a Republican from Dunwoody, said: “Our state needs employees who can speak more than one language, and there is no better time for its citizens to acquire language skills than when they are young. This charter school will also be an excellent educational environment for children with parents who come from Japan to do business in Georgia.”
In kindergarten, their first year, the students will follow an 80/20 model, meaning that 80 percent of classroom time each week will be spent immersed in Japanese, with the remaining 20 percent spent immersed in English.
Students in the first and second grades are to be immersed 60 percent of their time in Japanese and 40 percent in English. The time of the third and fifth grades is to be split evenly between English and Japanese.
In addition, Chinese classes are to be offered for two 45 minute period each week through an agreement with the Confucius Institute at Kennesaw State University.
The school curriculum will be sensitive to the languages that the students speak at home. Non-native speakers of Japanese and English are to be available for those who do not speak the targeted languages.
During the Japanese immersion time, according to the announcement, students will be exposed to a wide range of content learning areas including math, science, social sundaes, music, physical education and home economics enabling them to “attain higher academic achievement in two languages.”
The State Charter Schools Commission also praised the school application for its budget “which presents an understanding and capacity for school financing.”
To learn more about the school, send an email to Ms. Cork at firstname.lastname@example.org or (770) 261-6123.