The music was familiar but not the words as fourth-graders at Hilliard's Scioto Darby Elementary School recently sang to the melody of the children's song, "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes."

The students in Renee Pappas' class were using Chinese words and being led by Hilliard Darby High School senior Makayla Orth.

Orth, who attended Scioto Darby, is teaching Chinese to second-grade, fourth-grade and fifth-grade classes in 30-minute sessions four days a week as part of Hilliard City Schools' Career Mentorship program, said Neal Myers, her program mentor.

The Career Mentorship course allows students to shadow a professional in a career of their choice and set goals for their learning experience. The semester-long classes offered through the McVey Innovative Learning Center are open to juniors and seniors from all three Hilliard high schools.

Myers is Orth's Chinese 5 instructor at Darby in addition to serving as her mentor for the career she hopes to pursue.

"I had a lot of great teachers and (Myers is) an amazing teacher," said Orth, whose mother and sister are teachers. "I've been inspired by many teachers to encourage other students to grow and learn."

Orth was among the first eighth-grade students in the district to have the opportunity to learn Chinese as part of an enrichment program five years ago. She said it was her favorite class in the eighth grade.

"Both my (siblings) took Spanish and neither really liked it," she said. "I wanted (to learn a foreign language) ... and Chinese sounded cool and interesting."

Myers said after he learned that Orth was enrolled in the Career Mentorship program at the MILC, he suggested she teach Chinese to elementary school students, "and she has done a great job since."

"She has an amazing gift and has taken the idea and ran with it," said Bonnie Holycross, an educator who oversees the Career Mentorship program.

Orth said teaching at Scioto Darby has been an enriching experience.

"I love that (the students) are so excited and engaged," she said. "They are always ready to learn and they pick it up so (quickly). I love they are so full of life, and it is fun to watch them grow."

Tamar Campbell-Sauer, principal at Scioto Darby, said students "love" Orth's class.

"When I asked our own teachers who was interested (in having Orth teach), they jumped at the chance," she said.

Orth writes a lesson plan and records some lessons to review before presenting the material in the classroom, Campbell-Sauer said.

"(Orth) also works with a small group of students at lunch who want to learn more," Campbell-Sauer said.

"Her teaching style is so engaging."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo