Mid-Pacific Preschool & Elementary is a progressive learning community well regarded for its highly qualified faculty and unique, nurturing environment.
The guiding principle of the school is Children First. A Children First philosophy embodies the belief that every child is uniquely valued, can learn successfully, and has multiple strengths. Our child-centered approaches enable children to initiate questions and ideas, explore alternatives, and interact with peers, teachers, parents, and the larger community.These educational belief statements support the Children First philosophy:
Mid-Pacific Elementary School provides an integrated, developmental approach committed to educating each child and inspiring a lifelong joy in learning. The school seeks to provide students with multiple opportunities throughout the elementary years to experience learning as many processes in different contexts. Through inquiry strategies and in collaboration with their peers and teachers, students are taught how to ask questions, offer their own theories to explain a phenomenon, explore answers, consult resources, and reflect on their learning. This constructivist approach - students making meaning of their learning - is a linchpin of the curriculum and instruction in all facets of the school. Learning is hands-on, enactive, meaningful, and fun.
The academic curriculum weaves together the best educational theories and practices related to literacy - language learning, mathematical reasoning, social concept-building, and explorations in science. Literacy in all content areas manifests itself in sustained reading, writing, problem-solving, and critical thinking, as well as in all the skills, knowledge, processes, and attitudes that support literacy.
Technology - the use of iPads, laptops and other portable devices, is used as an instructional tool to support, extend and enrich learning. The former Epiphany School was the first elementary school in Hawai'i to write and implement a Technology Vision Statement. Through strong parent support and fundraising efforts, every classroom is equipped with several computers, printers, and access to the Internet. Students also benefit from a mobile lab of laptop computers.
A low student/teacher ratio enables learning to broaden and deepen. In addition to same-age classrooms (Kindergarten and 5th Grade), Mid-Pacific Elementary School offers multiage learning (Grades 1-2 and 3-4 combinations) as an educational strategy that promotes the development of a fuller range of a child's cognitive and social skills.
Support Programs: Art, Music, Physical Education, Christian/Character Education
Every child at Mid-Pacific Elementary participates in a well-rounded curricular program that integrates the arts, physical education, and Christian/character education. Based on the notion of Reggio Emilia's "Hundred Languages," these content areas are "languages" of thinking and understanding the world. Supported by education theorist Howard Gardner's notion of multiple intelligences, the school offers children multiple ways of expressing themselves, multiple ways of learning, and multiple opportunities for success. Art education, with activities ranging from ceramics and water color to printmaking and charcoal drawing, encourages children to explore color, texture, form, and perspective. In music education, children sing, play musical instruments, and learn about sounds, rhythms, and musical notation. Musical productions provide opportunities for every child to take center stage. Physical education activities include volleyball, basketball, swimming, and other activities which help children increase their physical stamina and coordination. Sportsmanship, goal-setting, active participation, and skill-building are emphasized. The art, music, Christian/character education, and physical education teachers work with all grade levels to integrate skills and content.
The spirit of the Mid-Pacific Elementary School experience is rooted in a Christian-based education program that focuses on the theme "Circle the World with Love" and its four aspects: love of God, love of self, love of others, and love of the global family. All grade levels participate in community service projects - raising funds for disaster victims, collecting food for the hungry, and writing letters to shut-ins.
Within the public and private school community in Hawai'i, Mid-Pacific Elementary School is regarded as a leader in Peer Mediation and Peace Team programs that offer student models for resolving conflicts with others. The fifth graders comprise the Peace Team, a service organization which provides friendly help to younger students. Interested third, fourth and fifth graders receive nine hours of intensive training to become peer mediators. Students learn conflict resolution skills, communication and listening techniques, anger-diffusion skills, and group-cooperation skills.
Nearly half of the elementary student population participate in the extended day program, which runs until 5:30 p.m. Children do their homework and can participate in a variety of supervised games and activities. Several after-school enrichment classes are offered for an additional fee through the Extended Learning Program. A whole variety of classes is offered: ballet, string ensemble, vocal ensemble, swimming, tennis, theatre, technology and more. Students may also play on the Mid-Pacific Christian Schools Athletic League (CSAL) volleyball and basketball teams.
The Mid-Pacific Preschool, a full-day program for three- and four-year-olds, is the result of careful thinking about the philosophy, instructional practices, and curriculum that most appropriately mesh with the philosophy of the entire school, particularly with the elementary school's constructivist approaches. Among many theoretical frameworks of learning and child development, the faculty believes that the Reggio Emilia approach supports high-quality learning, teachers' professional development, and parent participation -- important components of an educational program that are valued at Mid-Pacific Institute and that ultimately help children become lifelong learners.
As children transition from preschool to elementary school, we want to nurture in them the following dispositions: to be persistent, to collaborate, to take risks, to work with deliberate focus, to be curious, to make connections, to theorize and use high-level thinking, to be empathetic, and to learn from past experiences.
Our View of the Child
Each child is viewed as a competent learner whose questions, curiosities, and interests shape the emerging curriculum. The teachers make hypotheses about what direction the activities and projects might take. They observe children in action, confer, compare, discuss and interpret together their observations, and sustain the children in their exploration and learning by guiding the process of each activity or project.
Children are viewed as active authors of their own development by systematically exploring and making meaning of their learning in artistic, verbal, cognitive, expressive, and kinesthetic ways -- "the hundred languages" -- a term that the Reggio Emilia School so aptly uses to describe the diverse and multiple ways in which children can communicate. These languages include words, movement, drawing, painting, building, collage, dramatic play, singing, and shadow play, to name a few.
Approaches Inspired by Reggio Emilia Schools
We have chosen to model our preschool on the preschools of Reggio Emilia in the region of Emilia Romagna, Italy. These preschools are known worldwide for their progressive, child-centered approaches to learning.
Drawing on theorists Jean Piaget, John Dewey, and Lev Vygotsky, educators in Italy after World War II created a program based on socioconstructivism, the belief that knowledge is constructed through interactions and relationships with others and with the environment. Educators in Reggio Emilia also believe that children learn best through exploration and through interactions with their peers and adults in their surroundings. Children organize what they have learned through a process of reflecting, revisiting, and reworking their ideas. They communicate their learning through symbolic representation in many artistic "languages" -- drawing, painting, sculpture, shadow play, dance, music, building, etc. Through these processes, a sense of identity and culture are developed that is unique to the school and its community.
Since the K-12 curriculum at Mid-Pacific Institute strives to incorporate these beliefs about learning and teaching, it followed that the preschool children would benefit from a similar program. Extensive reading, a week-long visit to preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, visits to several U.S. Reggio-inspired preschools, in-service workshops, the presence of an experienced faculty member from a Reggio-inspired school, and a committed team of early childhood experts on staff have strengthened our commitment to developing this program. From July - December 2013, Mid-Pacific co-hosted the world reknown Wonder of Learning exhibit at UH-West O'ahu and the Summer Conference of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA). Mid-Pacific Preschool contiunes to sponsor professional development workshops for educators interested in the Reggio Emilia approach and trains student teachers in early learning college programs. Research indicates that Reggio Emilia approaches support the cognitive and social development of young children.
We have borrowed components and principles from the schools of Reggio Emilia to create a program unique to our own cultural identity, which provides a solid foundation for later learning. Children are given opportunities throughout the day to communicate with each other, exchanging ideas of how they see the world. Teachers carefully observe these interactions and provide the children with materials for representing their thoughts, expressing their ideas, and discovering their surroundings. Most importantly, they are given time to discover for themselves how the world works in a safe, child-centered environment.