Beginning: From Good to Great - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Beginning: From Good to Great

Posted on August 13, 2011

by Dr. Edna Hussey on August 13, 2011

A good beginning is important. A great beginning even better!

This first week of school marks a mindful transition for everyone from What Was Experienced to What Will Be Discovered about ourselves, our relationships with others, and our developing understanding of concepts and ideas. From one grade level to the next, from one school culture to another, from past learning to new understanding, and even from summer vacation to classroom learning -- we are taking thoughtful steps to help all students adjust to the notion of "being in school." If you read the classroom teachers' first blogs of the school year, you'll notice a theme running through all postings. All teachers have been involving students in a variety of activities to get to know one another. First names, last names, summer adventures, likes and dislikes -- all are beginnings to help our children transition comfortably.

The faculty and I began our transition back to school more than a week ago to prepare for our students and the important work of nurturing young minds. As a preschool and elementary, we are going to pay keen attention to these questions in our own inquiry as teachers: What is understanding? How can we help students make their thinking visible? How does classroom culture affect our students' learning? My participation in Project Zero at Harvard's Graduate School of Education this summer helped me to understand more clearly how ongoing professional development directly affects student learning. You'll be hearing more about what the faculty and I uncover throughout the year.

I strongly encourage (bordering very close on requiring!) all parents to go to MPI's website main page and read two top stories in this order: "Kupu Hou" and "2011-2012 School Year Begins." The first explains how MPI has shifted from two years of research and planning in the Schools-of-the-Future initiative to an important year of implementation. We are rolling up our sleeves getting to work on various ways to achieve the school vision of providing rigorous, global, 21st century learning experiences that honor and enhance each child's lifelong potential. "Kupu Hou," which means "to sprout, to grow anew," captures the spirit of our commitment to nurturing our students' growth in their intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual development. The ceremonial planting of kupukupu (a variety of fern) by President Rice and the three principals symbolized one school, one vision, one community.

The second website story highlights our first schoolwide gathering of the school year.
Faculty from all grade levels performed on percussion instruments to the delight of the entire student body numbering around 1550. Click on the video to experience the excitement of this assembly. Under the direction of drummer/teacher Michael Wall (Arists-in-the-Schools Program), the faculty used the metaphor of performance to
underscore the importance of listening to one another, working and learning together, and having fun together. Ask your child to sing the African welcoming song we learned (you can hear it on the video clip). From my perspective as principal, I cannot think of a better way to have begun school year 2011-2012. Symbolic language in the form of metaphors (images, sounds, actions, rituals, etc.) speak powerfully to our intellect and spirit.

And so, we have experienced a great beginning together. The best is yet to come.

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey