How we create a community - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

How we create a community

Posted on January 31, 2010

by Dr. Edna Hussey on January 31, 2010

Admissions season has begun! From January through early April, we've scheduled admission presentations and student assessment sessions nearly every Saturday.  Parents who have submitted an application for their child(ren) are required to attend an information session during which time I provide a PowerPoint overview of the MPI educational philosophy and key concepts that underpin the instructional program. What is most impressive, I think, is the visual documentation of interactions among various grade levels and the strong sense of community.  Parents have seen slides of the varsity boys' volleyball team playing with the elementary school students . . .  the eighth grade drama class performing a play with hand puppets they've designed and made themselves . . . students from a Spanish high school class sharing children's books they've written and illustrated themselves with first and second graders . . . a small group of preschoolers discussing their stories about the wind with high schools in an animation class . . . a high school drama class collaborating with preschoolers on an original script about going on a camping trip. Describing these experiences between younger and older students at MPI reminds me again and again how fortunate we are to be a preschool through high school on one campus.

This arrangement of a preschool through high school on one campus is equally invigorating for the faculty. In an effort to better understand the diversity of learning experiences on campus, as well as to dispel the myths we have about teaching at different grade levels, the teachers have been visiting each other's classrooms across the campus. We have coined these cross-class visits Windows of Learning.  It's not easy nor is this common practice at many schools in Hawaii and across the nation. Teachers have been documenting their observations, and this data will be shared at the upcoming professional development day on February 12. It has been exciting to see the professional exchange among teachers, and for many, eye-opening observations about what really goes on in a classroom.  Hopefully these classroom visits among colleagues will continue and become part of professional development program.  

During our last faculty meeting, we discussed concerns about students who frequently arrive tardy to school. Though occasional tardiness is understandable (due to inclement weather, a family emergency, automobile trouble, etc.), arriving tardy to school creates stress for the student. Rushing into the classroom -- and I can only imagine the stress level while parents try to maneuver through morning traffic --are not conditions under which a child should be entering into the business of learning. Parents, please do whatever is necessary to help your child be a successful learner, beginning with getting to school on time.

Finally, if you're read this far in my letter, I hope you'll also scroll down to your child's teacher's classroom blog. Classroom teachers are required to update their blogs as much as possible. Reading their descriptions of classroom inquiries, projects, and special activities is well worth your time.  And don't forget the specialists' blogs!

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey