Posted on May 29, 2010
It's Saturday at MPI.
The quiet of this morning is a stark contrast to the whirlwind of activity and joyful noise over the past two weeks. Just moments ago, students were finishing up inquiries, celebrating their classroom community in end-of-year parties, and packing up their belongings. The week before, children and their parents met with respective teachers to reflect on the student's learning progress over the semester, and more impressively, progress over the school year. On Tuesday, we acknowledged the efforts of many students who have provided meaningful acts of service and who have brought honor to the school community. This past Wednesday, the preschool through fourth grade witnessed the fifth grade Leavetaking ceremony in the dining room. The fifth graders participated in a touching, meaningful closing to their elementary years, joined by their parents and family members. I can't think of a better way to end the school year than Field Day! Imagine the baseball field teeming with children dressed in swim apparel splashing down a water slide, running water-play relays, eating shaved ice in rainbow flavors, tossing and catching balls, and salsa dancing en masse with the teachers and parents! All of this followed by a light lunch of pizza and fruit! Now THIS is the way to end a fabulous school year and to celebrate the gift of this community!
After the confetti settles, the faculty and I always gather together the following day to reflect on our accomplishments, to analyze the areas needing improvement, and to plan action items for the upcoming school year. The reflection process is usually more effective some time after an event, when the exciting percolation of emotions and ideas has time to simmer quietly. So our thinking this past Friday morning will be revisited in August when we begin another school year anew. While all the end-of-year events described earlier are readily observable by the public -- and we acknowledge the wonderful sense of community that is unique and deeply experienced by many families -- we look more closely at whether our actions and efforts have made a difference in our students' learning. Across the faculty, there is consensus that the approach to inquiry learning is more "rigorous" in the sense that there are specific strategies being used across all classrooms that require students to make their thinking about inquiry research more visible. We see students' question-generating as more productive, deeper, more critical, and more open-ended. The notion of collaboration, which is not just working together cooperatively, but moreover the process of contributing their different skills and expertise and problem solving the many issues that often arise in group situations, is better understood by the children (but still needs more work!). And the teachers are also adopting the researcher stance as they more carefully observe and analyze the evidence of learning. Some of the teachers and I will be meeting over the summer to re-visit the social studies and science curriculum frameworks, the content basis of our inquiry-based curriculum.
We bid aloha to Leah Lorenzana, teacher of a multiage third-fourth grade class, and Leigh Oshiro, a preschool assistant teacher. Leah will be moving back home to California with her husband and daughter and where she has just accepted a position to teach at Chadwick School, lower school. Leigh will be a lead teacher at St. Francis preschool in Manoa. We will miss them very much and wish them much success in their new teaching positions.
This "official" final letter of the 2009-2010 school year concludes with grateful appreciation to you, our parents, for such incredible support through the year. There are many individuals who have volunteered countless hours of work in the classroom and on special events committees. Rather than name the individuals who deserve to be in this hall of honor, less we inadvertently omit any names, allow me to describe these individuals as the parents
-- who organized the Welcome Barbecue, Spooktivity, Manoa Christmas Parade, Grandparents' Day, Field Day, Christmas and May Day programs, Leavetaking, and Ho`olaule`a;
-- who volunteered their time nearly every day by monitoring the children in the dining room during lunch recess;
-- who led the preschool/elementary `Ohana and represented grade levels;
-- who assisted our students in the classroom during inquiry, special projects, and excursions;
-- and who served on fundraising committees such as Moon Over Manoa and the M Club Gala.
Please know that your gifts of time, talent, and treasure are deeply appreciated. The direct beneficiaries of your efforts have been the children!
Finally, I'm grateful to my faculty and staff for the many ways in which they honor our children -- observing, listening, planning and working collaboratively, thinking creatively and critically, working beyond expectations. I am blessed.
It's been a great year! And our journey will continue together. Safe travel, happy sun-kissed summer, healthy days ahead. Hug your child often.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey