Posted on February 11, 2018
Years ago as a young administrator, I was quite taken by the work of a teacher/researcher/administrator who established her own school in New York City. Approaches to teaching and learning resonated with my own educational philosophy -- the keen attention to how classrooms of readers, writers, mathematicians, and scientists are developed. I was puzzled, though, by her rationale that activities and events were distractions to classroom learning, that every moment of the school day and week should be intensive delivery and engagement of learning. No assemblies. No holiday celebrations. No opportunities for bringing a learning community together to have fun.
For those who have known me during the 20+ years Iʻve been a principal or head of school, you know how much I value the social development of our learning community. Events such as Spooktivity, Grandparentsʻ Day, May Day knit our students and families together, strengthening our unique sense of community. One such event was Jump Rope for Heart, an annual event weʻve celebrated since 2000. While certainly an event that supports the American Heart Association and raises awareness about the impact of exercise on health, the event also makes visible what we value about learning. You need only to walk into the gym to feel the excitement and high energy of every student and adult (or observe the preschoolers during their morning event, assisted by fifth graders). And to see the faces of every red-faced, sweaty child totally engaged in learning, working beyond every stumble and trip of the rope taking risks! Even some parents and teachers just couldnʻt resist dancing, rope jumping, or tossing basketballs to the beat of the music. This is another aspect of learning -- having fun -- that deserves a place in schools.
You can read several classroom teachersʻ blogs about the event. Photos speak volumes. Much appreciation to PE specialist Preston Pires whose classes leading to the event continue to inspire healthy attitudes about fitness and parent chairperson Nikki Byerlotzer (in conjunction with Na ʻOhana Pueo) for coordinating snack donations and parent volunteers.
We have fun learning in our classrooms and together as a school community. This is what the school experience should be.
E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.