An indomitable spirit - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

An indomitable spirit

Posted on September 11, 2011

by Dr. Edna Hussey on September 11, 2011

MPI was well represented at the 3rd annual Schools-of-the-Future conference this past Thursday at the Sheraton Waikiki. Co-sponsored by the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, the conference has featured world-renown education experts such as Tony Wagner and Sir Ken Robinson. This year Alan November, technology-in-education expert, addressed an audience of over 800, speaking on effective learning and the role of technology in supporting learning. (For more information on Alan November, go to While you might expect 21st century learning to be mostly about the infusion of technology, you'd be surprised to know that the emphasis is primarily on learning and secondarily on technology. In fact, 21st century learning is all about thinking creatively, thinking from different perspectives, thinking that questions assumptions, thinking that sees possibilities. The breakout sessions featured presenters who were teachers, administrators, students, and some from the tech industry. Tiffany Byrne, representing the elementary faculty, shared how our teachers have been developing the digital portfolio to be implemented this Fall 2011. Her presentation will be made available on MPI's Kupu Hou site.

Posting this week's blog has been especially difficult for me today. The MPI community was shocked and saddened to learn about the death of Sascha Franzel, daughter of David and Sonia Franzel. franzel-2009.jpg She graduated from MPI in 2009 and was attending college in Colorado as a pre-med student. The faculty who taught at Epiphany School remember Sascha fondly because she lived life fully, even when she began as a precocious kindergartner. She excelled in a multiage setting where there was no limit to her learning. She was a voracious reader and writer. Sascha was inventive and imaginative; she loved school performances and singing in the choir. I remember one afternoon when David, her father, brought her over to my office (the blue cottage on Harding Avenue) so that I could hear Sascha rehearse the song Tomorrow for an audition. She was all of 7 at the time. I also remember the times Sascha would stop by with her parents just to visit. She was a great storyteller, so animated and lively in her creative retelling.

Sascha was older beyond her elementary years, so much so that her parents asked if she could begin middle school at MPI rather than wait another year as a sixth grader at Epiphany. It was the best decision for Sascha. She quickly and easily transitioned from a student body of 152 to a school with over 1200 students. Even though Sascha was at MPI as a sixth grader, her father brought her over to Epiphany the day we closed the school so that Sascha, too, could remember the day. Sascha found a home in theater when she was accepted into the School of the Arts as an eighth grader and continued in nearly every production until her senior year. sascha1ab.jpg Sascha was quite the active, well-rounded high school student from theater and sports to academics and community service. In her senior year, she took it completely upon herself to organize an aloha shirt drive for several military troops in Afghanistan. I mean thousands of shirts. Her mother and father were beside themselves with the boxes of donated shirts overtaking their apartment.

Sascha was self-possessed, compassionate, and outgoing. Her youthful appearance belied her mature outlook on life. The last image I have of Sascha is coming to see me in my office to thank me for supporting her community service project while I happily pointed out the enlarged photos we still had of Sascha in elementary school.

Sascha, you left more than photos of yourself with us. I will remember your indelible smile and indomitable spirit. You are a true child of Epiphany and Mid-Pacific Institute. May you rest in peace.

For Sascha,

Edna L. Hussey