Becoming a school of the future . . . today - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Becoming a school of the future . . . today

Posted on February 27, 2009

by Dr. Edna Hussey on February 27, 2009

As a follow-up to a recent posting about Mid-Pacific's proposal to secure funding from the Black Foundation to implement plans to enhance and transform our school-wide curriculum, I'm pleased to announce that MPI has been awarded $47,000. The Schools of the Future initiative challenges schools in Hawaii to develop more effective uses of advanced technology tools in support of student-centered and project-based learning.  Participating schools are expected to form professional learning communities with many opportunities to share what they are learning with each other. Mid-Pacific is one of eight schools statewide that received funding for proposed comprehensive plans spanning five years. We are pleased to have receiving funding, particularly as we begin to implement MPI's new vision statement -- "MPI will prepare students to make a difference in the world by embracing change with creativity, collaboration, critical thought, and global awareness, guided by moral and ethical values."

What does this mean for the preschool and elementary? Simply -- that we work intentionally on improving our inquiry-based curriculum and approaches to learning, with more attention to in-depth projects fueled by student interests and possibilities for social action. My previous letter explained the nature of inquiry as a learning process and how we are creating a performance continuum that clearly describes what we observe students doing kindergarten through fifth grade.  Since last semester, we have been talking about inquiry across the grade levels -- what it looks like, what students and teachers are doing, that products might emerge from an inquiry, and how student learning is assessed. We're also aware as a faculty that inquiry might look different from grade to grade.  During this semester, our focus then is to define the inquiry process via the performance continuum.

We are also very interested in working with a consultant whose expertise will be in inquiry and who will be able to work directly with teachers in their classrooms.  We will be researching other K-8 schools, which might implement Reggio-Emilia approaches or an inquiry-based curriculum focused on global awareness. Our hope is to collaborate with another school on some shared inquiry projects focused on current local and global issues. Next year we will be developing an electronic portfolio and teaching students how to manage their own electronic folders of collected work, as well as a capstone 5th grade inquiry focused on authentic issues.
As we slowly and thoughtfully move forward on our action plans, we will be keeping your informed.

The students continue to prepare for Grandparents' Day, March 6, beginning at 8:30am with visits to the classroom and a program at 10:00am in Bakken Auditorium.  The children will be sharing exciting learning experiences in art, music, character education, and physical education. Although the r.s.v.p. deadline is today, February 27, we will continue to accept responses up to Tuesday, March 3. If your child does not have a grandparent who can attend the celebration, another family member or friend is welcome to attend. However, please remember to call in the names of persons attending. The bus shuttle will be making runs between the football field and the elementary campus, as well as provide transportation from the campus to Bakken auditorium for guests who have difficulty walking. Guests will be directed to the dining room until 8:30am when the students will be ready to receive their grandparents. We are excited about welcoming our grandparents to the 2009 celebration!

All MPI families received a letter from President Rice and James Kometani (Chair, Board of Trustees) about the tuition increase for academic year 2009-2010.  The letter explained the reasons for the increase, all of which are the same reasons President Rice provided to the entire faculty and staff schoolwide last Friday afternoon. The news about any tuition increase is especially difficult to receive during these challenging economic times. You will need to make decisions based on your own family situation -- and I'm aware that for some of you who have experienced a job loss, the decision about re-enrolling at Mid-Pacific Institute will be very difficult. The MPI Board has increased the financial aid budget to assist families in need. The faculty and I sincerely hope that your child will be returning to MPI next year.  I would be happy to talk with you or direct you to someone who might be able to assist you. I believe that we will weather these challenging times.

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey