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Little Feet

Our Philosophy

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and Care Provider

What's the Hurry?

Young children are in a critical period of spoken language development from birth to age six. Most adult conversational language is in place by the age of six. Children naturally strive to learn language in their own environment during this critical  development stage. Exposure to sounds and tones in a second language and music would benefit children immensely in brain development and sets the stage for future learning opportunities.

 

Chinese is unique with having four tones for each syllable with up to four meanings. Many adult learners struggle to master these tones as they would also for slight variations in musical sounds, but young children can easily absorb and learn the intonation and differences. Starting your child early will help “train” their ears in order to build the foundation for future language and music development.

Through her years of study and observation, Maria Montessori discovered what she called “sensitive periods.” Sensitive periods are developmental windows of opportunity during which the child can learn specific concepts more easily and naturally than at any other time in their lives. A child in the midst of a sensitive period will show an especially strong interest or inclination toward certain activities or lessons. "At such a time everything is easy; all is life and enthusiasm." - Maria Montessori

Around age three, children experience a sensitive period for learning rhythm, pitch, melody, and more. This si the best time to introduce music to your child. Music develops the brain, leading to academic, social, and emotional growth. At Philadelphia Chinese Academy, music is a key part of our curriculum.

We firmly believe in effortless and fun bilingual education for children.  Kids before the age of six are eager linguistic and musical geniuses and the sooner they start, the easier language and music learning will become. With our group of highly qualified native Mandarin Chinese educators with master's degrees in education and a set of specially designed teaching curriculum using music and guided play, learning will be fun, dynamic and effective.  

Our Staff

Formal training and love of learning is important to us!

This is why we hire teachers who hold master's degrees in education. Not only do we adore children but our staff receives advanced training on understanding the philosophy and science behind what it means to be a child.

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Caru Echenique

Toddler Spanish Teacher

Señorita Caru is our Spanish teacher. Born in Venezuela, she was raised until the age of 6 by her force-of-nature grandmother, Manina, while her parents pursued their medical careers abroad. Caru’s immigrant parents were a great influence in her deep appreciation and passion of her Latino roots, which she strives to apply to every aspect of life. Caru brings to PCA her profound belief in the importance of language development at a young age, and the duty taught by her parents to serve and give back to her community. Caru believes in the power of a second language so much that she was inspired to start a Spanish learning group in her home for her daughter Cecilia which began her journey to become a teacher. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in International Relations/Latin American Politics. She also holds a Juris Doctor from The University of the District of Columbia. After graduation from law school, she served as an advocate for Latino families with children with Special Needs. When she moved to Philadelphia, she founded a language services company where she spent 5 years empowering the community through Language Access.  Caru’s myriad of cultural and professional 

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Dale You

Director and Early Childhood Teacher

Dale ensures that the school runs well and our students have a beautiful as well as nurturing environment to learn. Dale’s own parents nurtured her cultural and language ties to China after immigrating to Boston when she was 10 years old. She graduated from Wellesley College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. Before she discovered her passion for language education of children, Dale worked for decades in finance and real estate all over the world with multinational corporations including Morgan Stanley and Tishman Speyer and managed over $5 billion of capital for institutional investors worldwide. In her role as a senior finance executive, Dale saw firsthand the value that understanding Chinese culture and language brings to her professional and personal life. In 2014, when her first child was born, Dale combed the Philadelphia area for a place where her own children can receive Mandarin language instruction. Frustrated at the lack of quality programming, she decided to launch Philadelphia Chinese Academy in 2018 with co-founder Peggy Liu.  Dale is pursuing both her Infant Toddler as well as her Early Childhood Montessori certifications. She loves cooking soups, marinades, rubs and sauces!

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Grace Chang

Music Therapist

Grace has a passion for working with children. After Grace completed her bachelor’s degree in music performance in Taiwan, she worked in a music art center in Shanghai, China, as a music teacher with preschool children. She then moved back to Taiwan where Grace continued working with children in an elementary school as a substitute teacher for 4 years. In her years of working with children, Grace noticed that music not only brings joy but also benefits emotion regulation, impulse control, and focusing attention. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in music therapy at Temple University and her AMS Montessori Early Childhood credential. Grace believes that music can enhance learning and support children's overall development. Grace loves traveling, drawing, and cuisine.

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Pearl Zhao

 Lead Toddler Teacher

Pearl is a Lead Teacher at PCA's Toddler classroom with 8 years of experience. Her journey began in China, where she taught Chinese and English at an international school. Pearl fell in love with Montessori at the Barrie School in Maryland, where she earned her AMS credential for Infants and Toddlers. She is passionate about nurturing children's curiosity, independence, and joy in learning. She is dedicated to guiding toddlers on an amazing life journey. Beyond the classroom, Pearl is an adventurer at heart, exploring the world and picking up hobbies like crafting, singing, and snowboarding. She loves spending quality time with friends and family.

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Peggy Liu

Co-Founder, Language Education Director

In her role with PCA, Peggy designs our curriculum and leads our teachers on providing engaging as well as age appropriate interactions with our students. Peggy is mom to Amelia. She grew up in China and received a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese Linguistics and Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. She moved to New York with her husband and received her dual Master’s Degree in TESOL and Teaching Chinese a Foreign Language from New York University. Currently, Peggy is pursuing her PhD in Chinese immersion education for children at the University of Pennsylvania. Peggy taught at various Mandarin immersion schools in Boston and New York prior to working on her doctorate degree. As a firm believer of language immersion education, Peggy puts a lot of effort into developing engaging language lessons where students not only learn Mandarin, but also math, science, social studies, arts and music. Peggy loves playing the piano, reading, and spending time with her family. 

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Yasmin Yao

Early Childhood and After School Chinese Language Teacher

Yasmin is an enthusiastic and skilled Chinese language educator with four years of teaching experience in China. After completing her studies at Shanghai Normal University, she pursued a Master's degree in Education in the United Kingdom. She possesses a distinctive combination of hands-on teaching expertise and theoretical understanding. She demonstrates an exceptional ability to identify students' strengths and inspire them to achieve their maximum potential, resulting in notable advancements in language proficiency.  Her unwavering belief is reflected in her educational approach, which aims to empower children to embrace their authentic selves. Beyond her instructional role, Yasmin holds a deep affinity for Chinese classical culture. As a former participant in a traditional Chinese culture workshop, she firmly believes that language is intertwined with culture, and she is dedicated to imparting the elegance of Chinese culture through her language instruction. Yasmin loves reading, traveling, cooking and yoga!

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Zhiqian Ye

Toddler Teacher

Zhiqian is our toddler teacher, bringing with her a rich musical background and a deep dedication to fostering the growth of young minds. With a solid foundation in music education from Zhejiang Conservatory of Music and a graduate degree from Temple University's Boyer School of Music and Dance, Zhiqian's journey in educating children has been characterized by continuous learning and personal growth. Her initial exposure to music began at the age of five when she began learning the Guzheng. Zhiqian possesses an extensive knowledge of traditional Chinese music. Her expertise in traditional Chinese music, combined with her understanding of the Western music system, adds a unique cultural dimension to her teaching. Her past experience at an early childhood education center in China reinforced her belief in the profound impact of music on the comprehensive development of children. She perceives music as an essential tool that fosters both cognitive and emotional growth. Zhiqian loves dogs and photography.

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Zulay Echenique Henderson

Early Childhood Spanish Teacher

Zulay is the Spanish teacher for our Early Childhood classroom. She is a native of Trujillo, Venezuela. Zulay holds a degree in educational management and a doctorate in law. Zulay maintained her own private law practice focused on family law and has been a university professor. In her new season of life, Zulay has chosen to work with young children and is passionate about the Montessori philosophy, which influenced the successful careers of her two adult sons. Zulay moved to Philadelphia in 2017 and enjoys dancing, yoga, cooking and gardening.

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