The Ginkgo Academy (GA) will provide high-quality services in a fully accessible environment for students with severe ambulatory difficulties and typically developing peers while employing a community engagement model. The school will also serve as a center for excellence that will provide training opportunities for the personal and professional development of students, families, staff, and educators across China.
Within the first two phases of development, GA commits to completing the research and design of the GA, creating a strategic plan founded upon the research, organizing a Board of Advisors, hiring key personnel, and implementing of a pilot program based upon the model of success. GA also commits to continue the professional and personal development of Zhao Chun Li as the Chief Inspirational Officer (CIO) of Ginkgo Academy.
The GA program will provide access to high-quality instruction without regard to student-specific characteristics, deliver individualized support and accommodations for each student to attain optimal outcomes, and create a school culture - including the pedagogy, policies and service delivery model - that reflects both local values and the broader culture of China.
GA will be a bilingual, green universal design school with curricula in both English and Chinese and hire other highly-skilled Chinese and foreign teachers. The school will accept children from all over China. GA will also provide students with room, board and therapy and health services. The school will maintain an enrollment of approximately half children with ambulatory difficulties and half without. However, outside of the admissions strategy, the school, the faculty, the curriculum, and the services provided by the school will not label children in any way.
The team leading this project includes leading experts and practitioners from China and the United States in special education, inclusive education, teacher training, education policy, school operations, non-profit management and development and business.
The CGI Commitment to Action for the Ginkgo Academy will include the first two phases of the Academy's development.
Phase One (September -December 2012) will begin with recruitment of key staff, including an Executive Director, a Fundraising Director, and a Ginkgo Academy Leadership Board. This phase will also include early stage planning for the school program, which will be based on the Chinese context and the most recent research for effective, high quality inclusive instruction for children with and without disabilities. The model will be referred to as the 'Guangxi Model' as a means of increasing ownership by local education authorities. This Phase will also include continued professional development for Angel, as she will take a leading role in both GA operations and as an advocate for improved education for persons with disabilities in China and GA's work towards this goal.
Phase Two (January 2013-August 2014) will include preparations for and the opening of temporary facilities for the first year of classes. The first year will offer a preschool program for children ages 3-6 and a program for older children aged 16-19. Over this period, GA will actively recruit and train faculty; develop innovative and locally relevant curricula; formalize partnerships; develop student recruitment and admissions systems; continue fundraising; and design and plan for the GA.
Phase Two will also include professional speaking engagements and continued professional development for Angel, who will be serving in a leadership role as the Chief Inspirational Officer (CIO) of the Ginkgo Academy. Regularly scheduled Board Meetings will also occur both in person and online. Phase Two will end with a complete proposal for the permanent Ginkgo Academy and initial funding required to support the building and implementation of the Ginkgo Academy.
China is a leader among developing countries in UNESCO's Education for All Project. However, the development of schools that admit both students with severe orthopedic diagnoses and typically developing peers has not kept pace with the introduction of national policies designed to improve access and outcomes for all students. Consequently, there are presently few opportunities for student teachers to gain the experience necessary to be effective classroom instructors for China's inclusive and special education schools.
Revisions to China's 1994 Regulations on Education of Persons with Disabilities reflect the need for dramatic expansion of inclusive education. Statistics gathered by the Chinese Ministry of Education and published in the Chinese Journal of Special Education (2011) show that only 425,600 children with disabilities were enrolled in public schools in 2010. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education's Digest of Education Statistics (NCES 2011-015) for the same period showed that 6,483,000 students with disabilities were receiving special services in the United States.
The legislative efforts to improve access to education are exceptionally valuable, but for students with severe ambulatory difficulties and those who live in rural areas, implementation will be quite challenging. Students with normal cognitive functioning, but with ambulatory difficulties resulting from ontogenesis imperfecta, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, paralysis, and other conditions, have often been excluded from local schools due to a lack of supportive policies, teacher training, resources, and universal architectural and instructional design. The Ginkgo Academy (GA) is an effort to overcome these challenges and serve as a model for inclusive education in China.
2013: Seeking partners/resources
Ginkgo Academy is still in need of a major funding partner primarily to help us renovate school buildings, secure property rights and hire full-time teachers and administrators. Our estimated needs for the next 3 years are unchanged at $1,000,000. We would also be willing to consider re-naming the educational community after a donor, for a gift of $1,000,000, which could be donated over a 3-year period.
We believe that Angel Zhao's inspirational story would make for an excellent documentary, which would also feature the beauty of Yangshuo China and the country's first inclusive educational community for physically disabled children.
Ginkgo Academy is seeking partners in financial resources and fundraising, medical/technical assistance, and rural economic analysis. GA will be seeking highly qualified teachers, administrators and assistants who are knowledgeable in inclusive education and teacher training in China. GA will also be seeking partners in providing assistive technology, computers, and learning tools that will serve as model integrated learning in the school.
Ginkgo Academy will be offering training and professional development on inclusive and bilingual education. Best practices for teaching children with disabilities will be integrated into the design and development of the Ginkgo Academy. Ginkgo Academy will serve as a resource for higher education institutions in China on the design of courses for all teachers to learn strategies for teaching in inclusive environments where quality education is provided to all children. GA's Chief Inspiration Officer, Zhao Chun Li, and Dr. Kathy Johnson, will also be offering speaking engagements on disabilities rights and education in China.