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Clarkson University Master of Arts in Teaching Student Accepted into Startalk Program

Leejun Taylor of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., will receive her master of arts in teaching degree in June from Clarkson University and then will attend the prestigious Startalk 2017 Summer Chinese Teacher Training Program at Hunter College in New York City -- a flagship Chinese language teacher training program.

Leejun TaylorTaylor, a student at Clarkson's Capital Region Campus in Schenectady, N.Y., says that both achievements are integral to her goal of being “a highly effective teacher.”

The Startalk program is highly competitive, accepting only 10-15 teachers from around the country, said Associate Professor and Chair of Education Catherine Snyder.

“We are very proud of the work Leejun has done in the MAT program and it is no surprise her hard work has paid off with the opportunity to attend this Startalk program,” Snyder said. “Startalk is a State Department National Security Agency-funded program designed to encourage the teaching and learning of high-security languages like Chinese. The program sponsors middle- and high-school- exchanges, as well as very high-quality teacher programs like the one Leejun will be participating in.”

Clarkson graduates about five teachers a year who teach Chinese language.

Taylor already teaches Chinese language to students at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School as part of her MAT training and has an offer to teach full time this fall, but she is excited about the opportunity to attend this Startalk program.

“Startalk has a very good reputation. It's a highly effective teacher summer program,” she said. “It's only about a month long, but you go to school every day and are taught by master teachers.”

Taylor was born in Beijing and came to the United States nearly 30 years ago. She is currently teaching classes at both Adirondack High School and Coxsackie-Athens High School, via Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES distance learning at Burnt Hill High School. The teaching internship is part of the real-life experience the MAT program provides.

“I would never have thought a year ago that I could teach Chinese at a high-school level, but the MAT program prepared me well,” Taylor said. “It takes three times more time to learn Chinese than any of the Romance languages, and students need to learn how to pronounce as well as write Chinese characters. It takes much time and effort to learn Chinese, yet it comes with many benefits. According to research, when one speaks and reads Chinese, a wide range of unique N200 brain waves are detected being activated on the top central part of the brain."

What drives New York state teens to choose to learn Chinese? “The majority of my students say they want to learn Chinese as a career goal. They're only 10th graders and they already have career goals. They think internationally and have a vision. It's a wonderful thing,” Taylor adds.

Her course is an elective, which means the students want to be there, she points out. In response, she aims to be a highly effective teacher. “If I'm not highly effective, I'm wasting my students' time,” she said. “This is about the students, not me. We don't use teacher-centered methods anymore. We consider students' learning styles and abilities. My role is to meet their learning needs. My students are an inspiration. I can't wait to teach them each day.”

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, New York, Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

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[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Kelly Chezum, VP for External Relations, at 315-268-4483 or]

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