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Univ. of Mississippi to Open Japanese Saturday School

The University of Mississippi
plans to open a Japanese Saturday school for children whose families are moving
from Japan to
work at a Toyota plant that is
being built in Blue Springs.

Educators say the school, which will be established at Della
Davidson Elementary in Oxford, will draw Japanese students from all over
northern Mississippi when it opens in April of next year. The school will allow
Japanese children whose parents work at the Blue Springs Toyota plant or its
suppliers to keep up with their home country.

The children will attend regular classes during the week and
take the Japanese lessons on Saturdays.

It will be the second such school in Mississippi a Japanese
Saturday school opened in Jackson a few years ago when Nissan built a plant in
Madison County.

Lynne Murchison, director of credit programs at the
University of Mississippi’s Division of Outreach, wrote the proposal for the
Japanese Saturday school in Oxford before Toyota made its announcement earlier
this year.

“The Saturday school was one of the elements that
Toyota wanted,” Murchison said. “We have been told (by the Japanese
consulate in New Orleans) that we may have as many as 40 families moving into
the Oxford area by December.”

In Toyota’s $323.9 million incentive package, $750,000 has
been reserved to support the Japanese Saturday school in Oxford, said
Mississippi Development Authority spokeswoman Jennifer Spann.

Toyota’s new plant is expected to employ 2,000 when it opens
in 2010 and later expand to 4,000 employees.

The Saturday school is scheduled to open in April because that
aligns with the traditional Japanese school schedule.

The school will primarily teach math and language arts in
the younger grades with social studies added as students get older. Murchison
said she doesn’t expect as many high school students, according to a article.

The university has a challenge in finding teachers who speak
both Japanese and English so it plans to offer full assistantships, which
include tuition and a living stipend, to certified teachers from Japan who want
to earn a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language. Murchison
estimates they’ll need nine teachers.

Information from: The Clarion-Ledger,

– Associated Press

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