Global Awareness and Understanding the Mid-Pacific Way - Mid-Pacific Institute

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Global Awareness and Understanding the Mid-Pacific Way

Exploring unique friendship opportunities in China and Taiwan.

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Scot Allen

International Education Week (IEW) November 14-17 celebrates the diversity that can only arise when students from many different countries and cultures come together in the name of authentic learning opportunities.

As a corollary to IEW, Mid-Pacific administrators President Dr. Paul Turnbull, Vice President for External Affairs Scott Siegfried, and Preschool and Elementary School Principal Dr. Edna Hussey participated in unique professional development opportunities in China and Taiwan in October and November.

In a very real way, International Education Week and professional travel and outreach are living embodiments of Mid-Pacific's Aspirations 2020, a strategic plan designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century on behalf of tomorrow's students.

As you'll learn in the following paragraphs, Mid-Pacific is seen throughout the world as a fearless and progressive model of deeper learning. Here are first-person accounts from Mid-Pacific's world travelers:

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President Paul Turnbull
Hangzhou, China
November 1 - 6

I was a speaker at the Teach for the Future education conference, hosted at Hangzhou Normal University.

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The conference brought experts from innovative schools in North America together to speak about how schools like Mid-Pacific, High Tech High, Stanford's "d.School," Harvard's Project Zero, and the University of British Columbia's international teacher education program are changing the game.

What were the goals for the trip?
Mid-Pacific was part of an important discussion with leaders from business, university, and education. The President of China recently declared that he wants China to be the world leader in education by 2030. The goal of this conference was to discuss the methods innovative schools like Mid-Pacific and High Tech High used to become leaders in education and to develop a greater understanding of how to prepare teachers for the innovative classrooms of the future.

Tell us about your experiences!
We visited two schools: one large K-12 school of 4,500 students and one small start-up school in its first year. Both schools hosted panel forums for us to answer questions from school leadership teams. We were very well received - it was obvious that as "experts" in 21st-century teaching and learning, the schools we visited were eager to learn from us. In each case, we left feeling like the panels wanted to speak with us for another day or two.

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The large school represented many traditional types of learning, while also showing tremendous changes in terms of arts education. The school leadership was very interested in asking the North American experts about the process of change, the best ways in which to help their teachers feel comfortable with curricular changes, and the best ways to help parents understand the need for curricular changes.

The small school is affiliated with the e-commerce company Alibaba and embodies a deeper learning philosophy. The administration and faculty are exhibiting a risk-taking mentality by prioritizing project-based learning over rote memorization, telling parents in the admissions process that their experience will be very different from any other school. They have embarked on an exciting journey and they are hungry to learn from other schools who have successfully navigated the same path.

In each case, it was clear that Mid-Pacific was a model for school communities who were trying to embrace 21st-century teaching and learning.

What perspective/knowledge did you gain from the trip?
Mid-Pacific is a destination school in Hawaii because it has focused so much time on personalizing the learning environment for students and because it offers students a wide array of programmatic options. When we visited our host schools and spoke to faculty, students, and university professors about our programs, it became clear that we represented their idea of what a destination school could be in China.

It was eye-opening to realize how much we have accomplished since the introductory days of IB, the School of the Arts, Schools of the Future, and Reggio Emilia.

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Preschool and Elementary School Principal Dr. Edna Hussey
October 31 - November 5
Shunde, Foshan (Guangdong Province)

I was invited (all expenses paid) to attend the grand opening of a private, for profit kindergarten called SunPro International in Shunde, Foshan, in the Guangdong Province. (Note: "kindergarten" in China is for children ages 3-6.)

Tell us about your experiences!
In February 2017, a cohort from SunPro International traveled to Hawaii and three other states to observe different early learning programs. Mid-Pacific was recommended by the University of Hawaiʻi. The SunPro contingency included the principal, two school managers, a teacher, and the director of communication. The group spent the entire time in the preschool and elementary school observing classrooms and talking with teachers. During lunch discussion, the visitors and members of our preschool and kindergarten met with them to answer their questions and look at samples of student work. The SunPro team visited the UH Early Learning Center, Hanahauʻoli School, and schools in California, Washington, and Colorado. Mid-Pacific was the only school invited to the opening!

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I was also asked to prepare a two-hour presentation on Mid-Pacificʻs Reggio-inspired preschool and kindergarten -- the underlying principles of the program, the inquiry/project approach, and examples of projects. About 200 early learning educators from Guangdong Province attended the presentation.

Dr. Terry Lock from the UH College of Education provided an overview of early learning in the U.S., including a comparison of Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia philosophies. Dr. Yuan from South China University gave a lecture on early childhood in China, emphasizing the importance of a high-quality environment for learning.

My presentation was very well received. I found my hosts, the investors, faculty, staff, and families very generous and hospitable. Shunde, I learned, is the gastronomical center of China with some of the best chefs and foods in China. I felt that I was not only representing Mid-Pacific but the U.S. as well!

What perspective/knowledge did you gain from the trip?
During my brief stay, I also visited the best public kindergarten in the region -- Wu Sha -- which surprised me because of the high-quality environment and strong evidence of student learning displayed in the classrooms and outdoor areas, which included a large vegetable garden grown by the children and interactive water with pumps and waterways. Many of the resources for this public school are provided by parents who work in surrounding industries and whose children attend this public kindergarten. This school provides a model for corporate partnerships with public school.

SunPro International would like to continue our relationship -- perhaps a consultancy, professional learning for their teachers through working and learning about project work here at Mid-Pacific, or a summer learning experience for children and their parents.

Early learning is a growing "industry" in China. The demand increases because of millennial, educated employees who have traveled out of China and know about other models of education and from an influx of employees for their technology-driven industries. These employees with young families are coming from different countries.

The fact that SunPro International and other schools are looking at progressive models of early learning is an indication of their openness to change.

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Vice President for External Affairs Scott Siegfried
October 11-21
Beijing, Shijiazhuang and Taiwan

What were the goals for the trip?
To showcase the arts at our school and build relationships for future partnerships.

Where did you travel?
The Beijing and Taiwan portions of my trip were planned to make outreach connections and develop potential partners for new summer programs. The summer programs would be a start to developing stronger ties -- and potentially full-time students -- in the future.

The Shijiazhuang portion was a visit to Hebei Province and the capital of that province, Shijiazhuang. Shijiazhuang is home to Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School, a school of almost 10,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. I participated in a conference hosted by Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School called the Global K-12 Education Research Association. It is a consortium of schools from around the world, some independent, some public, looking to improve and share education practices. Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School is unique in that it has permission from the Chinese government to seek out such partnerships and relationships. The goal of Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School is to become a model of education in China with new approaches to education.

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The conference this year was based on the topic, "Cultivation of Students Literacy in the Arts." This was a great topic for Mid-Pacific as it allowed me to showcase our School of the Arts to education leaders from around the world. The title of my presentation was "Cultivating the Arts in Curriculum," highlighting how we have implemented our School of the Arts program as key component of our everyday curriculum.

Tell us about your experiences!
Mid-Pacific was received with the highest regard from not only the host school, Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School, but also other schools from around the world, seeking future collaboration and conversations. The depth of our Arts programs at Mid-Pacific was shared and highlighted as a spotlight on arts education.

What perspective/knowledge did you gain from the trip?
Mid-Pacific continues to build relationships with various groups in China. We have 28 students from China currently studying at Mid-Pacific, and we continue to build upon those relationships and others that are strategically significant for our success. The trip also reaffirmed how far ahead and how in-depth our programs are; in this case, the arts, compared to other schools around the world.

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