The principal of Mesa’s Taylor Junior High School is moving to China. The students didn’t scare Dale Cox away — he’s just pursuing his love for the language and culture of the country.
The Gilbert resident and his family will move to Beijing next month where he will take over as principal of middle school students at the International School of Beijing for at least three years. The school serves children of Englishspeaking foreigners.
The 25-year veteran of the Mesa Unified School District has traveled to China several times over the past five years and has even hosted in his home high school students from China as part of the Gilbert Sister Cities program.
Greg Tilque, president of the program, said Cox has played an integral part in establishing a relationship between Gilbert and its Chinese sister-city, Leshan.
“He’s really been on the forefront of helping us innovate programs,” Tilque said.
Officials at the school flew Cox and his wife to China in March to look at the house they’d be living in and check out the school’s facilities.
While he speaks Mandarin, Cox and his family won’t be living among Chinese citizens. The government has housing compounds located on the outskirts of town where most foreigners live. Cox said the neighborhood is filled with Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders.
He said he’s looking forward to having more time getting to know the students.
For one, his school size will shrink from Taylor’s 1,300 students to a mere 500 students among three grade levels. Not only that, but he won’t have to deal with facility issues.
“It’s going to be a more focused job than I have here,” Cox said.
His twin 13-year-old daughters will get the chance to experience what he did at their age, he said.
“My dad took me overseas at that age to Singapore and it changed everything,” Cox said. “You get an appreciation for what you enjoy as an American (especially living) in a Communist country.”