Posted on April 9, 2012
As a school principal, one of my professional responsibilities is to participate as a member of various visiting committees to accredit schools at least once each year. This is a process through the joint partnership with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools (HAIS). Other faculty have also participated on visiting teams. While preparation for these visits is time-consuming, there is much more gained professionally as we learn how other school communities operate. Often we come to understand the unique qualities and strengths of each school, public and independent, This past Tuesday, I ventured to the Leeward Coast to visit a Hawaiian-focus public charter school for a good part of the day. I was pleasantly surprised by what I had observed.
The school had ranked among the lowest in terms of student performance on state assessments. The student population is 75% Hawaiian, and nearly half the students come from economically-disadvantaged situations. Many children live on the beach with their families. The school had experienced high teacher attrition over several years, and the campus was in much need of maintenance and repair. Within a nearly two-year period, this charter school has made an amazing turnaround, due largely to a forward-thinking, very committed team of administrators whose vision of the school has led the faculty and staff to improving their instructional practice, assessment methods, curriculum and ways in which they communicate internally and externally. The school has developed a network of community partnerships to support students and families. There is promise and potential for these students who directly benefit from this resurgence of high energy, consistency, and positive spirit. An inspiring experience that speaks to the power of community and what can happen when all children are valued and respected.
The first day of school after Spring break seemed like the first day of school in August. Students just couldn't contain their excitement coming through the entry gates, eager to be the first students at their respective classrooms, excited about sharing vacation adventures, or to walk briskly along the fire lane to rack up more miles. If you log onto any of the teachers' blogs this week, you'll notice just how easily the students slid into classroom routines. A quick scan of learning this past week: learning fractions by cutting up a fruit salad, transformations in a modern-day ahupua`a, science experiments, a multi-genre approach to understanding characters, theory drawings about the human body, peace poems, and the learning goes on.
It was a glorious Easter morning for sunrise services or Easter-egg hunting. How many dozens of eggs did your children dye and decorate? I can only hope that my grandchildren found all the eggs their parents hid! Happy Easter, families. We have much for which to proclaim -- alleluia!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey