National charter group highlights PVCICS principal Wang

  • Kathleen Wang, the principal at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, stands on a play structure with the new addition to the school in the background. CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/14/2020 4:09:57 PM

HADLEY — A new report put out by a national charter school advocacy group and private consulting company profiles a founder of the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Public Charter School and highlights what it characterizes as the school’s focus on creating an atmosphere of respect and inclusion for students.

The December report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, based in Washington, D.C., and Public Impact LLC of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, includes an interview with Kathleen Wang of Amherst, the principal of the Hadley school.

Wang’s profile is one of two in the report exploring how a person of color leading a school affects learning culture, family and community relationships, and the effectiveness of the staff. 

“This report aims to acknowledge the unique value leaders of color bring to their schools, and to share thoughtful and effective practices that other leaders, regardless of their race or ethnicity, would be apt to adopt,” reads the introduction to “Identity and Charter School Leadership.” The 17-page report is the third in a series that features essays on eight charter school leaders across the country, including Maurice Thomas, head of the Milwaukee Excellence Charter School.

In Wang’s profile, she notes that that school’s location in Hadley means it is accessible to students in Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden counties, with both rural and urban communities.

“I wanted to start a school with students from a multitude of backgrounds that isn’t bound by where kids live,” Wang says in the report. “I also know that students often do not venture outside their immediate neighborhoods, so having a school be a common place to learn and make friends was the best vehicle for integrating students from many backgrounds and communities.”

The report paints a positive picture of the school that has faced criticism from local school districts and state education officials, as well. Local school districts complain that the school takes resources away from town schools. And the state has denied the school’s expansion requests out of several concerns, including that it has not reached its maximum enrollment, has not enrolled special education students in the same proportions as students comparable to sending districts, and had “higher rates of attrition of students with disabilities than other schools within its charter region.”

While discussing academic success of the students, including the 100 percent graduation rate for the first three senior classes and quality test scores in English language arts and math, the report also observes how the school gives students knowledge about living in a diverse society, describing teachers as weaving “social skills into the regular curriculum, selecting reading materials, for example, that address topics like social conflicts, discrimination, and racial and cultural biases, and helping students discuss them with sensitivity and civility.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at
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