Monday morning was bustling with energy and enthusiasm as more than 80 faculty and staff from St. Andrew's Schools – The Priory, The Prep and The Preschool, descended upon the Queen Emma Square campus to officially kick off the 2018-19 school year.
The day got underway with Kumu Hiwa Vaughan giving an 'oli to start the school year in St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Head of School Ruth Fletcher welcomed everyone back from summer break and unveiled this year's theme – Hope.
Fletcher, along with The Prep Principal Winston Sakurai, The Priory Lower School Principal Ka'ipo Bailey-Walsh and The Priory Upper School Principal Nichole Field, introduced new members of their teams.
Fletcher welcomed Executive Assistant to the Head of School Camille Michel, Sakurai and Director of College Counseling Rochelle Sakurai. Sakurai welcomed 3rd Grade Teacher Cynthia Kinnear and 4th Grade Teacher Pamela Shim. Bailey-Walsh introduced 2nd Grade Teacher Madeline Griggs, 3rd Grade Teacher Pualani Armstrong and Lower School and The Prep PE and K-5 Social Emotional Learning Teacher Mary Crowley. Field introduced Upper School PE Teacher Lahela Aoki, Upper School Choir Teacher Bowe Souza and Vaughan.
St. Andrew's Schools' Chaplain Annalise Pasalo, celebrated the Eucharist with the faculty and staff. During the Commitment and Blessing for the School Year, Pasalo asked, "Will you teach your students to 'strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?'" "I will," replied the congregation. Pasalo prepared The Holy Communion and used the school's 152-year-old chalice and paten that the Sisters of the Holy Trinity brought over from England when the school was founded with Queen Emma's support.
Faculty spilt into breakout sessions for their school division and learned about the nuts and bolts of St. Andrew's and the coming year. Then, everyone gathered in Ylang Ylang Courtyard for lunch and fellowship. New and returning teachers mingled and got to know each other on a personal level. Stories of summer fun, upcoming plans and hopes and visions for the new school year were exchanged between faculty and staff.
After lunch, Barbara Bray, a well-known creative learning strategist, led faculty through the first session of a two-day workshop. "Making Learning Personal Playshop with Barbara Bray" guides teachers through activities that help them to personalize their curriculum based on the Universal Design for Learning model. Bray believes that in order for learners to be successful, the process has to be meaningful and relevant.
"We're all learners," Bray says. "When you figure out your purpose for learning, you can model it for the kids. Kids like to know that we are human and as they build relationships with us, a trust is built where you can show vulnerability and reinforce that it's okay to make mistakes. "Sometimes teachers are so focused on the curriculum rather than uncovering the learning."
Teachers came out of the workshop with strategies they are energized and eager to implement in their classrooms at the start of the year. They have a class learning snapshot and class learning toolkit which will aid in pinpointing and honoring how their students learn best and what they are passionate about.
"Barbara Bray is definitely an inspiration," Crowley says. "I feel excited to use the tools and activities that she shared with us to create a more personalized education where my students' voices, interests and needs direct our learning experience together."
On Tuesday, School Counselor Caitlin Watson led a workshop for faculty and staff about Yale's RULER approach, which recognizes that emotions drive our learning, health, relationships, creativity and decision-making. Components of the RULER program include a class charter, mood meter and taking meta-moments. St. Andrew's Schools is entering its third year of implementing the RULER program on campus.
"When we recognize and nurture emotional intelligence, students are less anxious and depressed, have more developed emotional skills, display fewer attention problems, and exhibit stronger academic performance and leadership skills," says Watson. "Emotional intelligence also contributes to a more empathic, caring and positive school community".