Posted on October 27, 2013
Often when Iʻm explaining the elementary and preschool program to visitors, they look quizzical when I tell them students attend character education classes twice weekly. That character education is given serious attention next to core content areas, along with art, music, and physical education speaks volumes about our focus on all areas of child development. The goal is to provide students multiple experiences to build their moral compass, sense of ethical values, and community responsibility in the service of others. Prime example: instead of the usual method of collecting funds for the annual UNICEF drive (United Nations Childrenʻs Fund) -- scrounging for coins under the car seat or digging into momʻs coin purse -- Lori Abe, for the second year, worked with third and fourth graders to creatively raise funds. Building on the notion of social entrepeneurship, she challenged students to come up with ways to use their ingenuity to raise funds. Folded origami hats, painted, rocks, shoulder massages, yard and bead bracelets, printed group photos taken with their iPads are some of their enterprising ideas. All of their plans needed to be carried through with little or no adult assistance. We should know after Halloween the total amount raised to support a myriad of needs such as interventions to provide clean water and medicine to children in strife-torn countries.
Another outcome of character education is putting their learning into action. The idea of the Peace Team came about in 1994 when former Epiphany teacher Shirley Rivera responded to a real concern raised by her students who were sixth graders then -- some students just seemed unkind and troublesome, causing disruptions and a sense of fear among the students. The goal of the Peace Team, as their name suggests, is promoting attitudes of peace, especially at recess. After careful reflection about the long-term effectiveness of the Peace Team, character education teachers Shirley Rivera and Lori Abe discussed with fifth graders a more meaningful role for Peace Team members. Rather than relegating Peace Team responsibilities to lunch recess, the notion of caring for their school community begins when they arrive on campus wearing their Peace Team shirts on assigned days. Responding to the needs of others, intervening when necessary to maintain a peaceful environment, being a role model are lived responsibilities that extend beyond recess duty. When you see any of our fifth graders wearing their bright green t-shirts, give them an encouraging smile or pat on the back. Please read Ms. Riveraʻs blogs to learn more about the evolution of the Peace Team.
One more blog-worthy item: high-fives to the students in Tiffany Byrneʻs and Lucy Masaʻs classes who shared their in-depth Wailele Spring inquiry at the recent assembly. Kawailele is the natural spring located at the edge of the football field by a bamboo grove on our campus. From water sampling to investigating the fauna in the area, research field trips and outstanding data collection and critical analysis, students generated ideas to preserve Kawailele. I have challenged the students to consider taking the necessary next steps to work towards the beautification and preservation of this important Manoa natural treasure. You may be hearing more about these young environmentalists.
Spooktivity is in the air! Canʻt wait to see creativity unbound this Thursday -- students, faculty, and parents!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey