Posted on May 27, 2012
Another school year comes full spiral ! Unlike other businesses that mark periods of time by margin profits or losses or product yield or fiscal budgets, our teachers define each year by students' learning growth from August through May. We use performance continua to identify progress over a 10-month period and e-portfolios to provide concrete documentation of growth and learning. At the end of a grade level, which we view as part of a learning continuum that begins formally in preschool and spirals beyond high school graduation, each cycle, no matter how often it is repeated over the years, is unique! If we regard each child as unique, then the combination of these unique persons creates learning experiences that are indeed different each year. If you ask the teachers, they'll tell you that an inquiry project, in the way that is implemented in our classrooms, unfolds in ways that even surprise the teachers! An inquiry into ancient civilizations, the human body, children's relationship with the environment, energy conservation, or land use in Hawai`i pre-dating Captain Cook -- we never tire of the amazing insights our students bring to their learning. Even as the school year comes full spiral, there is as much celebration of their progress as there is need for re-energizing, reflecting, and re-imagining in preparation for the new school year.
Every monthly assembly is a time for recognitions and sharing of learning. At our recent May assembly, the parent `Ohana acknowledged every faculty and staff member in the preschool/elementary. Many minds and many hands have formed a net of support for this learning community. We also showcased three talented writers from a multiage first and second grade classroom who read their original stories (illustrated and hardcover-bound) in loud, expressive voices to the assembly. From my perch on the risers with the fifth graders, I could see everyone in rapt attention, smiling and laughing at points in the storytelling. Then a group of passionate third and fourth graders took their places by the projector to persuade us that we need to take much better care of our campus. With digital cameras in hand, they took photos of litter strewn in one of the firelanes, then created a very convincing slide presentation. We strongly encourage our students to take action and to be advocates for just causes!
In the coming week, we'll gather again on Tuesday to acknowledge students who have provided service year-round to our preschool and elementary community and who have participated in special programs. On Wednesday our fifth graders will formally take their leave of elementary school in a mid-morning ceremony witnessed by their parents and the entire school. We celebrate the school year on Thursday in a fun-filled morning of water activities and a picnic lunch. Log in to next week's blog for photos of these special events.
One last image: As I was driving home this Sunday, I saw a stirring sight. Along the road leading into the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, hundreds of people were walking into the crater alongside a line of buses and cars. Upon closer look, I noticed that these were troops of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Eagle Scouts carrying boxes and bags of plumeria lei to drape on each grave. They reminded me about the reason for the holiday -- Memorial Day -- and how they are learning to honor the thousands upon thousands of men and women who have sacrificed their lives so that I and all of you experience what it means to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Teach your children to remember and to be grateful.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey