Legacy of Empathy - Mid-Pacific Institute

High School Principal's Blog

Legacy of Empathy

Posted on January 9, 2018

by Thomas McManus on January 9, 2018

Happy New Year! Hau'oli makahiki hou!

The month of January is a time when many folks make resolutions and promises of self-improvement. As a preschool through 12 faculty, Mid-Pacific teachers met before the semester started to renew some conversations and skills that matter to us. For starters, we brought in the American Heart Association to train us all in life saving CPR techniques and basic first aid. We listened intently to instructions, laughed when it was our turn to play the "victim" in need of help, and supported one another with encouragement. The folks from the AHA are truly tremendous. I feel great knowing that we add this extra level of protection for our students and colleagues on a regular basis.

The faculty also spent time preparing for our Harvard Graduate School of Education, Reasearch Schools International project for the year. In the past, we have worked with RSI on Global Education and on creating an action-research protocol for our teachers. For this study, we are focusing on the link between empathy and learning. Our colleagues at Harvard GSE and some of our partners in the network are also excited about this line of inquiry. There is growing evidence that emotionally responsive and connected learners are not just more pleasant to be around but in fact able to learn more effectively and deeply.

Conversations about empathy in education are popping up all over, like this great article from Thom Markham. Or this article from InformEd that the faculty read together during our recent in-service day. In the coming month, teachers and students at Mid-Pacific will be doing some simple exercises to raise our own sense of empathy with the goal of strengthening our community. Ask you students about this for the next few weeks and maybe you can even play along at home! We'll also share more later in the spring when the results of our work have a more measurable outcome to share.

The calendar offers us an opportunity to think about some powerful legacies of empathy aroudn the world. One need look no further than the current week and the celebration of the life and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King to see students giving voice to these issues.


The combined faculty chorus and High School Vocal Ensemble under the direction of Ms. Train.

On Wednesday, High School Assistant Principal Christel McGuigan presented to the high school chapels to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. The program interposed images from Dr. King's time with more current images depicting struggles for human rights and justice. A highlight was when several of the adults joined the student vocal ensemble on stage to sing "Life Every Voice" under Ms. Train's direction. If you want to take a peek at Mrs. McGuigan's moving slide show and hear the singing, you can see both here:


On Monday the 15th, Dr. King's actual birthday, we will honor his legacy and have a deeper exploration of human rights with a special exhibit on Anne Frank. Many people do not know that Dr. King and Anne Frank were both born in 1929, occupying the same historical time period and leaving indelible, global legacies for generations that follow. The Mid-Pacific campus is open from 3-5 pm for student led tours of "Anne Frank, A History for Today". This touring exhibit is a collaboration between the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and UH's Matsunaga Institute for Peace. Mid-Pacific is one of a few schools welcoming the exhibit this winter, and we are proud to be the hosts for this public viewing. Mr. Serge Avery, one of our history teachers, worked with students who will act as docents for the exhibit.

So, happy new year. I hope it's a renewing time for you and yours. I look forward to seeing you on campus sometime soon!


Assistant Principal for Student Life Jennifer Grems and Assistant Principal for Academics (and Chapel speaker) Christel McGuigan lift their voices with the students!