265 Reasons and More to Give Thanks - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

265 Reasons and More to Give Thanks

Posted on November 21, 2009

by Dr. Edna Hussey on November 21, 2009

Following through on our Schools of the Future initiative, we continue to investigate ways to improve our educational program schoolwide. Two weeks ago, all three MPI principals (Dee Priester, Middle School, Grace Cruz, High School, and I) attended a seminar on a comprehensive approach to systemic school change to improve learning for all students.  The former Hawaii Change Leadership Group has teamed up with the Harvard Graduate School of Education to form Academy 21, leadership lab co-directed by Tony Wagner and Robert Kegan.  Five independent schools and several DOE districts and complexes were represented at this inaugural meeting of Academy 21. One important insight is that all schools, public and private, share one critical challenge, and that is improving instructional practice for all learners. MPI hopes to continue participation in future Academy 21 sessions.

Just last week a team of MPI preschool and elementary teachers and I visited Innovations Charter Elementary School, a multiage grades 1-5 community in Kona.  One of the expectations in the Schools of the Future grant was to investigate other school models. We observed classrooms through most of the day and met with their school leadership and faculty.  We liked the thematic organization of their curriculum, their gardening program, and the idea that the teachers meet daily during lunch to discuss curriculum and instruction.  Like our preschool and elementary, students prepare portfolios to document their learning; a few teachers are developing an electronic portfolio. Teachers make good use of the Smartboards and computers in each classroom. It was readily apparent that the students, faculty, and parents form a close-knit community who are committed to providing students a high-quality public education. It's encouraging to have found colleagues in another setting with whom we can share our ideas and challenges.

This Wednesday morning we will gather for a special Thanksgiving chapel. As we give thanks for our many blessings, I'm reminded of our students for whom we are most thankful. At our assembly last Thursday, several children were recognized for their recent achievements, such as the winners of the Peace Poem Project honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Brent S., Lily Z., Reina M., and Matthew T. received special certificates with an embossed gold seal from the Mayor of Honolulu's office. We also showcased the talents of three students in short video clips.  Isaac B. is a seven-year-old who participates in surfing competitions! Andrew Y. was the only Hawaii winner with seven other students nationwide who were invited to New York City last year for their award-winning essays and tennis abilities.  And Kai C.O., a fifth grader, took our breath away with his amazing feats as a gymnast. The students from preschool through fifth grade were totally impressed by the talents and skills of these children.

Thanksgiving heralds family gatherings, family talk-story time, and family feasts. While you and I gather with the host of family members and friends we may not see as often as we'd like, let's remember the reasons why we come together to give thanks.  I'll begin with 265 reasons -- each and every child in the preschool and elementary.

A few reminders: There is no school this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Please attend the session on either Monday or Tuesday at 6:00pm to understand the changes in the performance continua. Call the school office if you need childcare while you're attending the information session. The Christmas Program is December 3rd at 6:00pm in Bakken Auditorium (tickets were enclosed in last week's blue packets). No school on December 4 when teachers prepare for end-of-semester student assessments and conferences on December 14-15. 

On Thanksgiving Day when I gather with my extended family, my children and grandchildren, I'll also offer thanks for our students and their families, the faculty and staff, and all those who support the Mid-Pacific community. 

Our very best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey