Community building across the campus - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Community building across the campus

Posted on November 8, 2008

by Dr. Edna Hussey on November 8, 2008

November 8, 2008

This was a week of community building for preschool and elementary students with their "big brothers and sisters" across the campus, and it all evolved quite naturally.  On Tuesday during lunch recess, the high school Spirit Club visited us and led students in rousing cheers.  Members of the Pac-Five football team talked to the children about the importance of self-discipline and team work in the context of sports and the classroom and responded to questions from the students.  On Thursday, MPI's Jazz Band, under the direction of Allen Nii, performed several upbeat numbers during lunch in the dining room.  The children were definitely affected by the music -- head, shoulders, and feet keeping time with the syncopated rhythms, and a bit of expressive dancing as students made excuses to get up and toss trash or go to the restroom. 
Then on Friday morning, the preschoolers embarked on a walk throughout the campus as they searched for linear structures and shapes to make connections with the work of artist Dale Chihuly, who is best known for his studio glass art.  Along the way, Mid-Pacific School of the Arts faculty member Daven Hee spied the preschoolers on their observation walk and waved one group into his ceramics class.  Another group of preschoolers further away were invited into Paul Maley's dance class and Coco Weil's sixth grade theatre class.  Of course, our preschoolers were taken by their expansive environment and delighted in all the attention from the "big kids."  It's moments like these that the faculty and I appreciate the priceless benefits of being part of a larger school community, as well as our feelings of pride seeing former elementary students now in middle school and high school! 

Other cross-class learning experiences are developing between preschool and R. Kevin Doyle's senior theatre class.  What began as a senior class project to create and perform a puppet show for the preschoolers has emerged into an authentic collaboration between the seniors, preschoolers, and their teachers.  The learning processes between these two groups -- truly a multiage group -- is being documented by the faculty as students discuss aspects of the plot and production such as characters, setting, and costuming.  As I sit on the sidelines observing the learning, I am fascinated by what we are discovering about the notion of learning and collaboration among this unique group of learners.

Please set aside time for our next parent education session on Thursday, November 13, 6:00-7:30pm, featuring math consultant Gail Parrino, who returns to talk about learning the concepts of multiplication and division.  Rote learning or merely learning the algorithm (as in Kumon) does not prepare our children for more complex thinking processes and more abstract math in middle school and high school.  Math is about thinking and problem solving, not the answers. If you were unable to attend Gail's session on addition and subtraction, don't miss this one on Thursday in the dining room. Please call the school office by Wednesday if you need childcare.

Included in today's packet is information for all parents whose children participate in an afterschool class (choir, tennis, ballet/jazz dance, ukulele, music, guitar, piano, Japanese and Chinese language).  In an effort to ensure the safety of all children, parents will be required to sign out their children from these afternoon classes. Children not picked up within a ten-minute grace period will be taken to the afterschool program. As a reminder, if an afterschool class begins after 3:00pm, students must be enrolled in the afterschool program and be supervised until they need to leave for their classes.

Diane Koshi, the music teacher, has begun preparations for the Christmas program on December 19, which is scheduled at 5:30pm.  Hopefully, the renovation of Bakken Auditorium will be completed so that we can stage the performance in this facility.  The teaching for the Christmas performance -- whether singing, playing an instrument, or dancing -- is an important part of the curriculum.  Music is a performance-based curriculum, so your child's performance in the program is the expected outcome.  Please be supportive of your child's learning by making sure your child gets to perform that night, especially after weeks of learning.  

After you complete your reading of my weekly letter, make sure to visit your child's classroom webpage, as well as the specialists' webpages.  Go to the specialists' pages and enter your email address so that you can receive notifications about their current postings.  Pam Jenkins (physical education), Jordan Guillory (preschool and kindergarten atelierista), Shirley Rivera (gr. 3-5 character education and school counselor), and Lori Abe (preschool and K-2 character education) have recent postings, all of which give you a more complete view of your child's learning at MPI.  Music, art, physical education, and character education are equally important to the "academic" content areas, so please be attentive to your child's learning in all areas of our educational program.

Now that the presidential elections are nearly over (I understand a few states still have some re-counting to do because of very close margins), I hope that our country will move forward in a united effort to tackle the economic and political challenges before us.  

"Hope is a like a road in the country; there never
was a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence." - Lin Yutang

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey