Posted on September 2, 2013
On the first day all faculty and staff were required to report for the opening of academic year 2013-2014, we gathered at Kawailele beside the football field for our annual Kupu Hou welcome. President Paul Turnbull stood facing the Ko`olau while administrators stood behind and beside him, hands firmly on his shoulders and everyone else with their hands also on each otherʻs shoulders. The visual connectedness was striking, and I imagined that an aerial photo might have captured hands forming a network of faculty, administration, office staff, maintenance and facilities staff, admissions, development, business staff, technology staff, alumni, and parents -- one community.
This image (above) continues to strike me as an apt metaphor for what we hope to create as a school -- a network of relationships with our students at the center of our efforts.
Last weekʻs Kindergarten through grade two Open House reminded me of the relationships a school naturally creates between teacher and parent and parent to parent. As I stopped in each classroom that Wednesday evening, it was readily apparent that mutual trust between teachers and parents is foundational to the development of all children. While parents rightfully have expectations of teachers, the faculty must likewise rely on parents to provide a supportive home environment (including time for child-parent interactions beyond homework assignments!). I was also struck by the image of parents, seated side by side, in some classrooms the same chairs occupied by their children. What did I see?
Certainly a strong image of the parents as their childʻs primary teachers. Here they listened attentively, carefully, entirely to the teachersʻ presentations. The teachers asked parents to walk about the classroom and observe areas they hear their children often talk about. Or self-portraits or photos of friends their children sometimes talk about at the dinner table. As I peeked into rooms and watched the parents slowly taking in the classroom environment, I imagined them thinking of their children at the library corner reading a book, seated on the blue rug for morning meeting, or at a round table writing or drawing. Nearly all parents left written messages and drawings for their children, traces of their presence in the classroom.
Looking again at the phenomenon of an "open house," I observed parents talking animately to each other, nodding, smiling, laughing. While the children are often regarded as a community of learners, parents have many opportunities to form community as well. School can no longer be merely a drop-off place where a studentʻs experiences are isolated from the home and the larger community. Whether entering Mid-Pacific Institute as a preschool parent, kindergarten parent, or any grade level along the way, parents form a network of support for their own and ultimately all children in their childʻs classroom and the rest of the school. Thatʻs how this network of relationships works. Hands of support on each otherʻs shoulders.
Next Open House for parents of children in grades 3-5 is Wednesday, September 4, 6:00pm in the dining room. (Preschool parentsʻ Open House was August 12.)
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey