This has been my first year at Assets and I can’t imagine how it could have been more splendid. There have been countless wonderful moments that I’m sure I’ll hold dear for a long time. And while I know the year is not over yet, and that the 8th grade recognition ceremony will be incredibly emotional, it would be difficult to imagine a more special evening than Wednesday’s Family Night. Family Night is composed of our Art Show, Book Fair and Middle School Project Based Learning Expo. The night had so many of my favorite things. It had demonstrations of student work that showcased how brilliant our kids are, a palpable enthusiasm for books, art displayed everywhere, the entire K-8 community coming together, families on campus….it even had a candy bar! The best part was that it was truly student-centric. If you noticed, the faculty were there to support but students led.
Family Night was the last day of our book fair. The library was decorated with an “under the sea” theme and students have been visiting, making wish lists of books and other goodies that looked interesting. We were even lucky enough to be visited by a major celebrity, straight from New Mouse City. The famous Geronimo Stilton, Ratizer Prize winner and editor of The Rodent Gazette, came to Assets and met with students!
If our librarian Ms. Cindy caught a student reading the past week, she gave them a ticket that they could cash-in at recess on Tuesday. Ms. Cindy challenged the faculty to support reading by volunteering for a sponge toss, and of course we had a flood of volunteers. I’m not sure what this says but students were lined up, many deep, to throw sponges at their teachers!
Students could buy extra tickets for a 25-cent donation. This money will go to the Kids in Need Foundation, and will be matched by Scholastic. As you’ll see, some middle school students gave generous donations in return for the chance to completely dunk Mr. Tacoronte.
K-12 Art Show
What can I say about the Art Show except “WOW?” I’ve seen these works throughout the year but to see them all up on the walls at the same time completely blew me away. I was telling many parents that it was a great joy for me to slowly watch our campus transform into a walking art gallery these past few weeks. We are so lucky to have such phenomenal art teachers as Mrs. Leitner and Ms. Fox. The Art Show was a collection of various projects that each class has worked on throughout the year. You’ll notice our students practiced many different styles and form, and travelled all over the world in their learning. The Art Show was deeply awe-inspiring for me because it was such a striking exhibit of what creative, brilliant minds our kids have. Some of the pieces were simply breathtakingly beautiful. I felt such great joy that this event allowed family and friends to serve as an audience for our student’s artistic expression, and gave us all an opportunity to celebrate their achievements.
Middle School Project Based Learning Expo
Our middle school students have been working all year for this demonstration of learning, which serves as their capstone experience. At the beginning of the year, students select groups based on a topic and essential question that interests them. Then, students met with their groups each week throughout the year to problem-solve what they wanted and needed to learn about in order to develop a deeper understanding of their essential question. We had a diverse collection of groups that focused topics such as: caring for animals, sustainable fashion design, encouraging physical fitness and wellness, filmmaking, female empowerment, Hawaiian history and cultural practices, helping others in our general community, using portrait photography to break down stereotypes of Assets students, raising awareness and demystifying learning differences, using technology to strengthen community, and the power of words and art to raise social awareness. This is important because we know that high levels of satisfaction are related to providing students with the autonomy to explore topics of their choosing and in ways that make them feel most comfortable and competent. This is what PBL is all about. There are not pre-determined answers or products. Students own their learning in meaningful ways. The learning is found in the process, which is even more important than the end product. I saw many parents walk out of classroom with tears in their eyes, deeply moved by the student performances, movies, activities and presentations.
I often hear parents share that what they want for their child is for him to be happy with himself. Sadly, self-esteem is not something we adults can automatically transfer to a child. Even though we know how great our kids are, we can’t plug-in and download self-esteem into our children’s hearts and minds. Rather, self-esteem is a conclusion that we draw about ourselves. It’s a judgement and attitude about ourselves. And unfortunately, many students come to Assets having had their self-esteem injured.
The good news is that we can give our kids something. Our job as parents and educators is to help children develop, possibly repair, a strong, healthy self-esteem by providing them with an abundance of evidence that they are capable learners with bright futures, full of goodness and worthy of praise. It is through this endless gift of shared evidence that children will hopefully make the accurate and appropriate judgements about themselves. That is why evenings like Family Night are so important. The magic is in the authenticity. Authentic problems or topics. Authentic learning. Authentic work. Authentic audiences. Evenings like this are an opportunity for us, and their classmates, to offer students powerful evidence that they have magnificent gifts and are capable of extraordinary heights. And when we come together as a school community, we magnify the effect. It’s the power of community! Wednesday provided many eyes, much applause, positive comments, high-fives and handshakes. We may initially to choose to attend these events for our child or student but we validate all with our active participation.
Mahalo to Ms. Cindy, Mrs. Leitner, Ms. Fox, Mrs. Haggerty, Ms. Tess, all the other faculty members and parent volunteers working the book fair and various booths, and families in attendance for making Family Night such a remarkable evening.
Me ka mahalo nui,