Posted on April 27, 2014
Representatives of the community that supported the Wonder of Learning initiative in the state of Hawa`i -- educators, foundations, professional organizations, parents -- were invited to an appreciation dinner at Mid-Pacific Institute this past Thursday evening. Special guests Claudia Giudici, pedagogista and President of Preschools and Infant-Toddler Centers, Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, and Emanuela Vercali, Co-Chair of Reggio Children International Network Coordination and Member of the Reggio Children Managing Committee, were virtually present at the dinner. They expressed their deep gratitude for the collaboration between Hawaii and Italy in making it possible for the international exhibit to be housed at the University of Hawaiiʻs West O`ahu Library from July through December 2013. Over 60,000 people experienced the exhibit, which illustrated through panels and interactive video many examples of high quality early learning (infancy to children of preschool and kindergarten age). Mid-Pacific Institute took a lead role in coordinating the exhibit and sponsoring the summer conference of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA).
The physical construction of the professional exhibit required the efforts of volunteers. We are grateful to the many parents in our MPI preschool who helped to assemble the exhibit in early July then also deconstructed the exhibit in December. MPI faculty, teachers and student teachers in other schools, including from UH West O`ahu, volunteered their time. Kamehameha Schools and the Atherton Family Foundation provided major funding to support the initiative. Private donors from the Mid-Pacific community were also very generous. At the appreciation dinner, it was astoundingly clear how the Wonder of Learning was possible only through the collective efforts of an entire community!
Leslie Gleim (MPI pedagogista), Jordan Guillory (atelierista), and Robynne Migita (head teacher) recounted the three-year journey from writing the proposal to secure the exhibit for Hawai`i to packing up the exhibit and sending it off to South Carolina, the next exhibit site. A series of professional development sessions and workshops featuring Reggio Emilia experts complemented the exhibit, all of which were organized through Mid-Pacific Institute.
While support for quality early learning is waffling in Hawai`i, many public and private groups continue to collaborate on systemwide efforts. Mid-Pacific Institute is committed to continue educating new early childhood teachers through the university system and to invite opportunities for community discussion. Governor Abercrombie was right to focus on investing in quality early learning as the means to improve the lives of our youngest citizens.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey