Cardozo principal pledges to improve Chinese program

Cardozo High School Principal Gerald Martori (l.) is working to bolster the school's foreign language programs. Photo courtesy Gerald Martori
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A northeast Queens educator has taken his own learning experience abroad to expand his teaching opportunities at home.

After returning to the United States from a mid-November trip to China, Bayside’s Cardozo High School Principal Gerald Martori has begun expanding the school’s Chinese program to better suit its demographics.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip that I really enjoyed,” Martori said. “I learned a lot and look forward to taking that back to this school.”

The principal trekked to areas including Beijing, the capital of China, alongside several other American educators as part of a partnership program organized by Hanban, a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. Each year, the program engages 420 American teachers split into geographical groups to establish Chinese language and cultural teaching partnerships on a global scale.

“The goal here is to give the kids an opportunity to learn Chinese in a dynamic sort of way,” Martori said. “It can only help — certainly in this area.”

That area is in Bayside, where nearly 7 percent of the population is Chinese, according to the U.S. census. Nearly 200,000 Chinese residents make up just under 10 percent of the entire Queens population.

At Cardozo alone, Martori said Chinese students comprise more than one-third of the entire student population.

“It is important for us to give the students this kind of opportunity,” Martori said. “If we can get some exchange programs going, it would be invaluable to their education.”

While in China, Martori said he visited a primary school, two high schools and one college to meet with both students and teachers to learn area customs and find opportunities to enhance his own teaching experiences back in the States. The principal said he teamed up with two high school principals in China who vowed to work together from their ends of the world.

During his visit, Martori said he sat in on two 11th-grade English classrooms and spoke with high school students. The principal said he was astounded at the sophistication of the students’ dialect.

“Visiting China and seeing how they teach and learn firsthand kills all stereotypes and preconceived ideas,” Martori said. “When you see their culture and experience it, you see things very differently.”

For starters, Martori said students at Cardozo will have pen pals to correspond with from China, thanks to the partnerships he set up from his trip. And looking ahead, the educator said the goal was to expand Cardozo’s Chinese program, which currently caters mostly to native speakers only.

By continuing to work with his newfound teammates on the other side of the world, Martori said he hoped to organize teacher-trading stints, where educators would switch schools, and countries, for two weeks at a time to learn through teaching.

So far, he said, demand as been booming.

“I think students in the area realize something like this could be essential,” Martori said. “My hope is we can begin drafting more classes for this school, including a new Mandarin class for September.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 2:40 am, January 11, 2013
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Reader feedback

Lou from Bayside says:
Hey thats great! Overcorwded by about 2000 students, frequent acts of violence, students defecating in the stairwell and the Principal has time to go to China! Glad to see priorities are in order!
Jan. 13, 2013, 6:26 am
A from Bayside says:
Maybe they should learn and start speaking English before we all start to speak Mandarin!!
Jan. 14, 2013, 12:55 pm
John from Queens says:
Hey Lou, where did you get your info? Cardozo is a great school. That fact that is overcrowded shows how much students want to be there. If you read the article and understand the changing world economy by strengthening the foreign language program the school is preparing the students to be ready for the future endeavors.
Jan. 14, 2013, 2:57 pm
Peter from Bayside says:
Cardozo is a great school. Glad to see the Principal is thinking outside the box and is preparing his students for a diverse changing world.
Jan. 14, 2013, 3:21 pm
Lou from Bayside says:
I get my info from my kids who attend the school. it is a good school but used to be better. Just because "so many students want to be there" doesnt mean they desrve admittance. The disastrous effeminate speaking Mayor Bloomberg has destroyed the school system making the schools in south Queens virtual warehouses where learning cannot occur. Even though Cardozo is a good school, hundreds of students are being pushed through and graduate as semi functional illiterates. All one has to do is go to QCC and see the hundreds of graduates that need to take remedial courses for things they should have mastered in hs. Instead of pandering to the murderous Chinese, the school should be trying to graduate students who at a minimum can read and converse in english and who can do basic math. Not all are graduating with those skills.
Jan. 14, 2013, 6:18 pm

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