Students at John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica recently completed a study of ancient China and will begin learning about ancient Japan, thanks to seventh-grade world history teacher Linda Kovaric’s trip to Beijing.

Kovaric — who has lived in Westchester for more than 30 years — was the only teacher from California to attend the United States-China Joint Education Conference, held December 2nd to 9th in China.

Although teachers have gone to China before on individual trips, the joint conference was a formal education exchange between teachers from the United States and China.

“The joint conference is quite significant for both sides,” said Kovaric, who has taught at John Adams Middle School for nearly six years. “This was an outstanding exchange of philosophies and ideas. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of our hosts and the whole experience.”

Kovaric’s trip began with an anonymous recommendation to invite her to be a delegate on the conference, which was organized by People to People Ambassador Programs.

She received an invitation letter from Denee Mattioli, former president of the National Council for the Social Studies and a professor at the East Tennessee State University College of Education.

“Someone from the university or the National Council or People to People may have looked at my teaching record and thought I should attend,” Kovaric said.

Kovaric has also taught English, history, and social studies at Santa Monica High School and Olympic High School. Both schools are in Santa Monica.

People to People was developed by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower to encourage exchange programs between ordinary citizens of different nations.

Sixteen teachers from across the United States were invited to spend a week in Beijing and attend exploratory sessions on China’s education system. Some of those sessions focused on globalization and its impact on education and the influence of Confucianism in modern Chinese culture and education.

“The system in China is much different from ours,” Kovaric said. “There is a huge push and national funding to teach Chinese students math, all of the sciences, technology, and foreign languages to third-graders.”

Kovaric plans to give lectures on China to the entire seventh grade and parents and teachers in March and April.

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