The Chao family at the institution’s 20th anniversary celebration
Dr. James S.C. Chao and his daughters, The Honorable Elaine L. Chao and Angela Chao, returned to their ancestral land on October 17, 2015 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Yi-Ren Kindergarten. Yi-Ren kindergarten was named after Mr. Yi-Ren Chao, the late father of Dr. James S.C. Chao and a tireless advocate for educational opportunity in rural China.
Mr. Yi-Ren Chao was born in China’s Jiangsu Province on September 19, 1905. He completed his primary studies at Jiangsu Provincial Fisheries School, and graduated from secondary school in 1929 to become a teacher at West Primary School. During the war years, he fled to the countryside to escape the occupying forces.
In 1940, Mr. Yi-Ren Chao initiated an educational movement known as ‘Education Saves the Nation’, and began opening classrooms within private homes, ultimately establishing a private elementary school—Li Feng Primary School, where he served as principal. He devoted his life to making education accessible to as many students as possible, regardless of their financial circumstances, and in so doing, improved the lives of thousands of students. After a valiant battle with cancer, he ultimately succumbed on March 13, 1959, at the age of 54.
Carrying the Torch Forward
Mr. Yi-Ren Chao’s only child and spiritual heir, Dr. James S.C. Chao, carried on his father’s dedication to education in many different ways; through his own personal achievements; through the commitment to educationthat he passed onto his children; through the many philanthropic contributions he and his wife made to support education initiatives in America and Asia; and through founding a highly respected and reputable international shipping company, Foremost Group. Dr. James S. C. Chao and his late wife, Mrs. Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, raised six daughters who perpetuate Mr. Yi Ren Chao, their grandfather’s devotion to education as the foundation to advancement in life.
Dr. Chao carried on his father’s work to improve opportunities and access to quality education for young people. A distinguished and much respected entrepreneur, industrialist, and philanthropist, Dr. James S. C. Chao never forgot his Chinese heritage, traveling to Asia to visit, lecture, and contribute in many meaningful ways to build better understanding between America and Asia. Shortly after China opened up to the world due to the Four Modernizations Program in 1978, he and Ruth established one of the first foundations in 1984, , reflecting the Chao family commitment to help enhance U. S. Asia relations through greater understanding of East and West. This Foundation has awarded thousands of scholarships to outstanding students, endowed chairs at universities, provided construction grants to four universities in Jiading district, and of course, the Yi-Ren Kindergarten which was funded with a generous gift from Dr. Chao in1995.
The Yi-Ren Kindergarten has remained true to its founder’s philosophies and vision of“diligent teaching and strict governance.” Its faculty is dedicated, innovative, and working harmoniously as a single unit to bring the highest level of professionalism and educational instruction to the student body. National assessments in 2003 and 2007 placed Yi-Ren Kindergarten at the top of the national league of schools.
The institution’s 20th anniversary celebration was an opportunity to remember Mr. Yi-Ren Chao’s principles and his family’s commitment to their patriarch’s legacy. On this occasion, Dr. James S. C. Chao generously donated another significant gift to improve the nursery’s facilities and general district-wide programs that will improve the quality of education through innovative curricula and new technologies, as hoped in the farsighted vision of Mr. Yi-Ren Chao.