Posted on November 24, 2013
Our Kindergartners have been doing an in-depth inquiry on the community of Mid-Pacific Institute in an effort to understand more broadly the notion of "community." What better way to investigate than to research Mid-Pacific Institute! Since the beginning of their inquiry, they have been observing the persons who comprise Mid-Pacific, from President Turnbull in his office to Ms. Kelli and Mrs. Schultz in the elementary office to classrooms at all levels. Most recently, their inquiry led to many questions about the buildings and environment, which led to a meeting with Bill Wheeler (Class of 1978), Director of Student Activities. Bill shared a brief history of MPI through slides taken from the archives. Students learned about the early formation of MPI in the late 1800ʻs -- the merging of Kawaiaha`o Seminary for Hawaiian girls and Mills Institute for Chinese boys. Most fascinating to us was seeing the original Wilcox Hall, which became the school and dormitory for male students, while the female students were housed at Kawaiaha`o.He told us that the lava rock wall at the entrance to the elementary school on which the 1909 plaque can be found is part of the original wall that remained after Wilcox was destroyed by a fire. At one time, Wilcox Hall looked like Kawaiaha`o building. In fact, much of the existing elementary school was the Wilcox social hall where students had their meals, studied, and socialized. The students had so many questions that weʻve decided to invite Mr. Wheeler back to another assembly next semester.
Earlier this week, Pasi Sahlberg, PhD, Finnish educator, scholar, and Director General of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation in Helsinki, Finland, joined a small group of MPI friends for an informal coffee hour in the elementary dining room. Dr. Sahlberg has an impressive resume, having worked with the World Bank, the European Union, several governments in 50 countries in most of the world, advising several governments and providing high-level strategic advice to policy-makers. Dr. Sahlberg was in Hawai`i to present key points from his book "Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland" (Teachers College Press, 2011) to the general public at two UH West O`ahu and Kamehameha School, Kāpalama campus. Sahlberg responded, though briefly, to our questions about early learning (play and inquiry are highly valued), equity in education school choice (Finland offers primarily an extensive public education from preschool through high school), assessment (the Finnish do not conduct extensive standardized testing but rely instead on schoolsʻ ability to provide data), and professional development (teaching as a profession is revered and well compensated in Finland). Before he left, Sahlberg commented we (MPI) must be doing the right thing because of our Reggio-inspired preschool!
Two important reminders:
• The Wonder of Learning, the internationally-acclaimed exhibit of high quality early learning learning, will be closing December 7. I am grateful for Mid-Pacific Instituteʻs leadership, in collaboration with UH West O`ahu (where the exhibit is located) and the Hawai`i Association of Independent Schools), in bringing the exhibit for all of Hawaiiʻs citizens.
• I ask for your participation in MPIʻs Annual Fund, which is critical in helping to bridge the actual cost of supporting every childʻs education at MPI and the tuition fee. Our goal is 100% participation in the Annual Fund rather than the actual amount of your gift. Participation is perhaps the most critical factor when we seek grants from foundations -- they will be interested in seeing how well the members of the MPI community support their own community. I sincerely hope youʻll join me in contributing to the Annual Fund, which ultimately touches every child and the school operations that support our students.
When I sit at the dinner table with my family on Thursday, all of you will be among the many blessings for whom I am deeply grateful.
On this Day of Giving Thanks,
Edna L. Hussey