Monday message 11.29.2021
Aloha to the Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School learning community. I hope this message finds you recovering from way too much turkey, way too much fun, and way too much enjoyment as we roll back to school after the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully we all had the opportunity to reflect on the many blessings we have in our lives, and in particular to have a unique charter school that offers a high-quality education for keiki on Kaua’i.
One key area of focus in our school that sometimes goes unrecognized is social-emotional learning. Centuries ago, the importance of this area of education was captured in the wise words of Aristotle when he wrote”educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School embraces social-emotional learning as a core value and there are countless examples on campus that we will share with you this week.
Recess time continues to evolve on our campus. We see significantly positive growth in learners’ behavior at recess time this school year, as verified by data that office referrals during recess time is greatly reduced from last school year. We are pleased to reintroduce balls at recess again this year, and our learners are learning to play Four Square in collaboration with one other. The keiki are able to referee their own activities and resolve most issues without adult intervention, which is a key learning stage in social-emotional development. It is refreshing to see Four Square games pop up now before school, at recess, and while waiting for the bus to head home. In addition, a simple activity such as learning to wait your turn on the extremely popular swings is another example of how our keiki experience an opportunity to work collectively with others and problem-solve any potential issues.
Our talented staff do a great job of infusing social-emotional learning into their teaching of state standards here at our school. The data that demonstrated their excellent work can be found by examining our Panorama Survey results, where the school scored ABOVE national averages in eight out of ten categories that measured student satisfaction at Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School, plus our SBAC state assessments where we scored ABOVE state standards in six out of nine categories. There are visible signs of this work on bulletin boards on campus demonstrating student work and by walking into each and every classroom to see lessons such as “Grateful” from one of our kindergarten classes this week.
Socio-emotional learning also involves learning the importance of aloha ‘aina, which is a deep respect of the land that our beautiful campus sits on. We have countless opportunities to interact with nature at Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School, given our geographic location and the abundance of wildlife that live in the valley. We consistently see chickens, feral pigs, and goats on campus and we are proud of the respect that our learners show for these animals. Our resident school cat “Sunny” has found a happy home here since we adopted him last year, and again our students treat him with great love and kindness.
Speaking of kindness, we are pleased to share that in terms of developing this area in social-emotional learning, the Kindness Jars are now into their second week of operation. Congratulations to Zander who is this week’s winner for helping out a friend with an issue over a lunch that got spilled one day last week on campus. We will continue this program weekly until the conclusion of the school year with the draws being made at our virtual morning assemblies.
One of the most intriguing sources of information about our school came last year, when two individuals from the mainland who have worked in hundreds of schools complimented Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School when both of them remarked that this was the best school they had ever visited. In a curious sense, both of these individuals were asked to share the reason for this generous statement and they both exclaimed that the learners at our school were so happy. “Happy” is such a subjective term that it is difficult to place concrete data to it, but we thought their observations made independently certainly had some value.
Po’o Kumu (Director)
Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School
“Ua ola no i ka pane a ke aloha.”
There is life in a kindly reply.
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