Yinghua Academy is a unique school. It is a true melting pot of ethnicities. Students are immersed in Mandarin Chinese language, but receive a well rounded exposure to all of the subjects that you would expect an elementary school to teach. Our second grade daughter has a teacher who has been with Yinghua for a long time. Of all of the Mandarin Immersion teachers and assistants that our daughter has had so far, 4/5 remain. The academic director is the same person that was there when the school began! We are satisfied with YA and our daughter is happy there.
The retention rate from 2012 13 to 2013 14 is 60% that is 15 out of 35 teachers are returning. Kids at this school are accustomed to losing relationships they build with teachers, year after year. This is a known issue to the school for years, no improvement seen. Read the full report - http://www.yinghuaacademy.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Yinghua-Annual-Report-2012-132.pdf
On paper this school appears to have it all, and for many years it did. The last couple years have been especially challenging with growth and administrative turn over. Many families, especially those who have adopted children from China, have stood behind the school as these inevitable growing pains work themselves out but, bigger issues at the leadership core are starting to emerge and paint an unhealthy picture. The current Director, who was previously at a private school, is intent on bringing that culture with her rather than respecting and understanding the Yinghua culture that existed previously. She has also hired many administrative staff members and teachers from that school and a pattern of similar attitudes, dysfunctionalities and disorganization are very apparent. With a large and costly addition underway, a current leader who's skill set doesn't meet the needs of the school (and who can be very unprofessional at times) a bare bones staff with key players still missing and a complete disrespect for the history of what Yinghua was and why it came to be, this school is teetering on the brink. Wake up School Board and take a good look at some glaring problems.
Yinghua is an excellent school, with great teachers and a true Chinese immersion program! It is a safe, fun place to learn. Hopefully this year the kids and teachers will endure fewer tests.... and explore learning more creatively. There is so much for our kids to enjoy at Yinghua! A great enrichment program, and exposure to Chinese culture.
Yinghua is an excellent school that combines many features that parents look for in a program: K-8, language immersion, Singapore math, orchestra, sports, leadership opportunities, fun American traditions (Golden Ticket lunches, March Music Madness, Spirit Days, Field Day), fun Chinese traditions (Lunar New Year performance, Kite Festival, Grandparents Day), and a convenient location. My children have benefited from excellent teachers who give personal attention and encouragement. They love going to school and they love learning Chinese. And their Chinese accents (I am told) are indistinguishable from those of native speakers. I am content to be patient about things like parent-teacher communication (because teachers do not speak English in front of the students), late English reading skills (because students build literacy in Chinese first), and the more transient than normal teacher talent (Chinese teachers are in high demand). The school has passionate administrators and teachers and gets excellent results. It's not a traditional American school, but it's worth being a bit out of my comfort zone to give this gift (of Chinese fluency and community) to my children.
Yinghua is a unique school with some wonderful strengths. It has a decent Chinese curriculum, Math is excellent, English in the lower grades is very good. The Chinese culture is exceptional. In middle school the amount of testing and homework is nearly overwhelming -- 2-3 hours of homework per night and continual testing, including midterms & finals. The administration is professional and competent but defensive and not open to much parent input. The middle school is the weakest part, as evidenced by the fact that nearly half of the sixth grade (including my older child) is not returning next year. Rather than address the middle school issues, the administration is bottom loading (more K & 1st grade classes). Teachers are not treated well by the administration & the turnover is staggering -- after six years of operating, the school had not one of its original teachers. My children have gotten a good education here, and my younger child is remaining at Yinghua for now. But unless the school becomes more responsive to students and teachers I'm not sure it will be viable in future years. What a shame it would be for the first Chinese immersion school in the midwest to fail!
My daughter is entering 3rd grade and absolutely loves this school. She is near fluent in chinese and doesn't come from a chinese speaking home. Her math is above the state average and her reading is at the state level and climbing. The school is in a great area right next to a park. The extracurricular activities are growing each year. In grades K-4 your child can take music lessons after school and in grades 5-8 they can take lessons as part of their school day. The school is growing and the school building is getting a much needed addition to hold all of the students. This school is a gem!
Still positive after kindergarten, but with some reservations. Original review was over the character limit, so I'll just do bullet points: GOOD * building expansion should be great * good mix of east & west pedagogical styles (complaints about workload are overblown, but other parents argue w/ me about this) * management shakeup was for the best, increasingly professionally run * very active group of parents * loved my son's kindergarten teacher * SERIOUS about immersion (e.g., teachers won't speak English to you in front of kids) * uniforms (opinions differ, but I'm a fan of uniforms) * very happy with math instruction * impressed with the art, music, and gym teachers BAD * inconsistent teacher quality, not all certified * kids must fit the school, school won't adjust much for kids (gifted, special needs)--they need to address this, need more individualize & project-based learning * few resources for extracurriculars at higher grades (may change with growth) * teacher retention--Yinghua recognized for great exp. it gives teachers. Certified teachers snatched away by wealthier schools * concerned about science education at higher grades, not many resources now
Yinghua Academy is a wonderful Chinese Immersion school with an effective curriculum, dedicated staff, and an involved parent community. Our daughter understands everything her teacher says to her after just one year. She loves to teach the language to her friends. Along with the opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese, the Singapore Math program is what drew us to the school. The icing on the cake is the music and art influence, and wonderful events the children put on such as the Chinese New Year performance where all of the children perform a song and dance. The teachers are firm but kind. The administrative staff truly cares about the school and the students. The PTA works so hard. I couldn't ask for more.
We had two kids at Yinghua for several years but left due to the attitude taken by the school towards one of our children. While the school was generally good, our son is gifted (99% of kids 1-2 yrs older.) When we met with Ms. Berg about what could be done to help stimulate him, we were basically accused of teaching our chlidren at home, and then our requests were refused in a very demeaning fashion. Our kids never set foot in the school again, nor will they. Other than that, the teachers did what they could for the majority of the kids. Unfortunately, our kids just weren't in that group.
We have two children at Yinghua. Our kids love going to school, and we've had a good experience for the past 3 years. I don't have anything else to compare it to, but it does seem like they get more homework than the average elementary school student, but it's not an oppressive amount at all. Easily done in 10-20 minutes each day. There are more tests, and for some kids that's stressful. Yinghua, and immersion programs in general, are going to be more work because it's a challenging curriculum AND it's in Mandarin. It's not for every type of kid. Like at any school, some teachers are better than others. Like at any school, there is pressure to fit everything into a school year. But the teachers and administrators and parents are all committed to finding the right path. It's more work for kids and parents, but the language, the math, and the community make it worth the effort.
I have never seen a school administration and school board treat their teachers so poorly. Despite teacher retention is a known issue for years, administration continues to hand down unreasonable demands. A change to the curriculum in the middle of the school year - teachers are expected to make it work immediately. The administration decided to give K-8 students, not 3 (as in past years) but 6 exams this year. Teachers again are left to 'figure it out' cram the content into the days. Teachers complained they have no time to do craft, play games, or do anything that is not directed related to preparing the students for tests. Students are routinely retained from recess to 'catch up'. The endless testing, mounts of homework, always rushing, lack of support, all contributed to a stressful, hostile atmosphere. All this trickles down to the kids. The stress is unbearable. Kids are suffering. Yet they continue to brag about being 'top 5%' of all MN schools. Parents submitted pages of feedback and presented to the School Board. 5 days later the Board responded by email asking parents to fill out a survey monkey online! The feedback has fallen on deaf ears. We are so done with Yinghua.
I have a son in first grade here. I am very pleased with this school and his progress, particularly in math. His teachers have communicated very well with me via email these two years (K and 1st grade) and thus far he is easily able to complete his homework each night. I have seen him confidently interacting with his teacher in Chinese. I am looking forward to second grade! The new head of school, Ms. Berg, is great and has brought a sense of cohesion to the school. I predict a bright future for Yinghua!
We left this school with the first mass exodus of teachers and families in 2011. There is another mass exodus happening now. This school is a pressure cooker for kids. If you are considering enrolling, do your research and be prepared for Yinghua to consume your life and family time, with the possible side effects of kids who are stressed out and develop physical and emotional ailments as coping mechanisms.
We have a 4th grader and a Kindergartner starting next year. The quality of teaching, community, and administration have been excellent. As the school has grown, the board has navigated the school through inevitable transitions with wisdom and courage. You couldn't do better for your kids!
This is a very good school. I've had three children here and have been very happy with it. The teachers work very hard and are very dedicated. As expected, the pupils gain a very high level of competency in Chinese but, unexpectedly, the school has a really great Math program. My children were all slightly behind in English reading and writing but they caught up quickly in late 3rd grade/4th grade. My older two have since moved on to an English middle school and are doing very well.
The immersion education at Yinghua cannot be matched in my opinion. The teachers, directors, & other staff work tiresomely. All the staff are very supportive of one another, students, & parents. What you will notice 1st though is the high level of parental involvement & the strong sense of community inspite of all it's growing pains in the past. The kids fluency in oral & written Mandarin is truly impressive. The other subjects are exceptional as well. They have stats to back it up. My kids love learning because of the encouraging & postive environment there. Yinghua has a fantastic vision for the present & future including plans for expanding at the current site. The school board is dedicated, open, transparent, & responsive to families of the school. We are pleased w/unique and diverse student body that they will be with for k-8 grade. Yinghua is truly an extraordinary learning environment w/a strong music, art, PE programs to boot! Love the new responsive classroom model, strengthing of the core squence, & all the new extra curricular activity choices now available. We have nothing to complain about in comparision to other schools. Wish every child had this opportunity!
Our son attended kindergarten last year and has just begun first grade. So far, his experience has been very positive. The teachers are extremely dedicated and the atmosphere is quite supportive. We've been impressed by the high level of parental involvement and the strong sense of community. There's plenty of homework, even in the early grades, but our son has grown by leaps and bounds and seems happy among his friends there. The fluency kids learn, both oral and written, is truly impressive. Yinghua has been growing by leaps and bounds, with all of the attendant space and staffing issues, but we sense the school is moving to a stronger place, including plans for expanding at the current site. We're pleased at the increased size of the the younger classes, since we think it will help the school achieve critical mass in a number of programs while giving kids a larger, more diverse group of peers as they move through their elementary years. If you're looking for a unique learning environment with a strong academic focus, this may well be the right choice. Bear in mind, however, that you're making a very serious, multi-year commitment to gain the real benefits.
A recent change in leadership (new director) has been very positive. The school has undergone some transition in recent years, but seems to be finding its way. Teachers are caring and work very hard to meet the needs of the students.
My oldest has been attending this school for four years now. My middle child is in his second year. They are both fluent in Chinese and excited about learning. My daughter leaves 3rd grade at math time and joins a 4th grade math class as a gifted student. It is not just the language that is being taught at Yinghua, but all the core subjects as well. Fantastic educational experience.
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