I saw Barbie. I’m guessing many of you have too because Barbie has been the cultural phenomenon of the summer.
Head of School
Great Minds Don’t Think or Learn Alike.
At Assets, this is not just a tagline; it’s a truth, culture, and way of being. I also think of it as a promise. For 65 years, Assets has been a national leader, committed to educating students who learn differently and transforming the lives of families. Over six decades, our alumni have made their college, professional, and local communities better places because they were accepted, affirmed, and celebrated at Assets for the creative and unique individuals that they are.
One of my favorite moments at Assets was touring campus with a group of university professors. After we visited classrooms, observed instruction, and spoke with students, one of the professors turned to me and enthusiastically declared, “This is what school should be!” I agree, which is why it is my privilege every day to lead such an incredible educational community.
As parents, we all desperately hope to find a school with teachers who embrace our children, and who will design a classroom environment that helps them thrive while responding to their learning needs. That is exactly who Assets’ teachers are! Our teachers help our students grow in areas that do not come naturally, conquer challenges, and I think even more importantly, discover and develop their substantial talents. In our ever-changing world, we need emergent thinking on complex problems. Traditional thinking has produced traditional outcomes. We need unique thoughts, unique solutions, and unique minds - Assets student minds.
What I think I love most though is that each student matters at Assets. Each student is “seen” at Assets. Each student is known as both a learner and as an individual with hopes and dreams, talents and vulnerabilities. Each student, each day. The school is a community where students find belonging. They find their “we of me.” And through the guidance of their teachers and support of their classmates, they learn to advocate for themselves and others.
I invite you to learn more by visiting (either virtually or in-person) our two campuses. Here you will see and hear what school can be.
October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, a time when we share resources and stories in hopes of raising public awareness of, and ultimately support for individuals with dyslexia, those that serve them, and those that love them. I wanted to write something to kick-off the month, but what story should I tell?
From my memory, I have written schoolwide messages in the aftermath of shootings in Paris, Orlando, Las Vegas, and Parkland. It is a grisly roll call. The truth is, I may have written more.
In my role as Head of Assets, I had been monitoring all the Covid metrics for Hawaii. I knew all the CDC guidelines, in addition to the ones from multiple public health departments and children’s hospitals. As an administration, we had a Google drive full of Covid research papers, guidance, and protocols. I felt like I knew more about Covid and reopening schools than just about anyone I knew. And still, what was best for our family?
At the beginning of the school year, I asked Mr. Gabe and Student Senate to discuss and develop new programming around two specific holidays. I asked that they focus both on community building within Assets and our responsibility to our greater community. The first result was the fabulous Thanksgiving celebration and food drive that students planned. The other was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I am so proud that the Senate students decided the best way to move forward this year was to march in the annual parade from Magic Island to Kapiolani Park.
The time period is set to the turn of the 20th century and each student is assigned an immigrant character. Dressed in character as Western, Eastern, Southern European and occasional Asian immigrants, students stand in line to enter the Ellis Island processing station. It is hot, the line moves slowly and students get uncomfortable. Once in the processing center, students rotate through various stations, where faculty and parents play clearance officials and doctors, quizzing students on their names, marital status, education level, vocation, country of origin, and intent in America.
Edith Wharton wrote, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be The candle or the mirror that reflects it.” I’ve been thinking about these words a lot lately as we open the K-4 Village and a new school year. Light can brighten, warm, energize, ignite, and guide. I like to think that light is the gift that we give to each other at Assets. Teachers, students and parents alike.
Working with blocks is so important to child development and learning. One of my favorite aspects of blocks is that they are largely blank canvases. They don’t have artificial color. Your imagination has to decide if your castle is blue or grey or if your bridge is wooden or stone, covered in yellow polka dots. Blocks don’t lock-in like Legos do. Working with blocks involves your muscles and senses in a unique way. You have to provide your building materials with the balance and stability they need to function.
We had a ribbon cutting ceremony last week. No, it wasn’t with donors and stakeholders involved with our new K-4 Village construction project. Rather, it was with middle school students who had completed their work with Ms. Fox over two enrichment cycles to redesign our Block Room! After a temporary closure for this work, our Block Room is officially reopened for learning!
I think the Death Valley story is one of hope. It’s also about truth. It provides us indisputable evidence from the natural sciences that environmental conditions decide how well and if organisms grow or not. In one interview, a long-time park ranger reflected on what he’s learned from this Death Valley phenomena. He said, “There are so many seeds out there just waiting to sprout. Just waiting to grow.” The same applies to our students. When a student is struggling, society too often looks first for what’s deficient in the child. This is like blaming the wildflowers for not growing! That’s easy to do if you just ignore the fact that it’s 120°F outside with no rain. Obviously it isn’t the flowers’ fault. Their seeds are magnificent and ready. Instead, we should look to the environment.