Friday, July 26, 2013

Starting Soon - SY 2013-2014

It's the end of summer; teachers return to work next Tuesday, July 30, and students will return on Monday, August 5.  Where did my summer go?

This will be a challenging year for us.  Our $33.2 million construction and renovation project  changes the landscape of our school grounds.  One whole section will be closed down as workers begin constructing a new administration and a ten-classroom two-story classroom building.  This means changes in the recess schedule, recess fields, and a location for our two physical education teachers to conduct classes.  It may take longer to get from one place to another due to barricades while construction takes place, and we will have to get used to the dust, noise, and traffic while ensuring that teaching and learning continues.

Additionally, the recently-ratified teachers' contract places new expectations on teachers as well as administrators.  This is a "practice" year where all of us will be trying out the components of the Educators Effectiveness System to improve teaching and learning in our Hawaii public schools. We are learning together, and my responsibility is to ensure that our teachers receive the support they need to be successful and to grow professionally.  Right now, I'm working on an agenda for the first few days; I'm doing my best to be creative and engaging while modeling the use of various technology or Web 2.0 tools which teachers and students can use to collaborate, communicate, think critically, and create.  We have our theme for the year - "Making Connections; Building Relationships."  Hopefully, we can put all the pieces together in a coherent way that makes sense and positively impacts teaching and learning at Hale Kula.

We have a large staff with several new hires, so in our welcome letter, we gave them an assignment based on a project our teachers shared after returning from the ISTE conference.  (Thank you @Bryan Doyle for the idea!)  Right now, our Media/Technology Coordinator  is working with our custodial staff to  help them upload their summer assignment.  It has been so much fun to see everyone's unique summer story in 6 words and 1 picture, and we'll be sharing this slideshow at our Welcome Back Breakfast next Wednesday.  I'm sure it'll be a great way to start off a new school year!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Principal Evaluation E-Portfolio

This year, after many years of negotiating, principals are being evaluated using a comprehensive evaluation form.  We have always been evaluated, but now, the State is using an evaluation system which measures performance on multiple measures including student achievement.  We are still waiting for more information, but in the meantime, we're asked to share evidences of what we've done this past year to improve our school.  We will also be developing a long-range plan and setting annual goals to reach those plans.

For the past couple of years, I've been meaning to start an ePortfolio to document my personal growth as an educational administrator.  I never quite got started, though, even if our students were keeping their own electronic portfolios using weebly  We even had first graders with their own weebly page, and it was amazing that some of them got the hang of things so quickly!  I guess I was waiting for the right opportunity to get going!

I have a meeting with our Complex Area Superintendent in a couple of weeks, and I am finally starting an ePortfolio.  I needed some tutoring -- I tried to learn things on my own, but there were little glitches that I didn't know how to rectify -- but now, I'm enjoying it!

As principals, we need to model what we want our staff and students to do.  Last year, I encouraged our teachers to create a class webpage, and most of them did.  They found that updating their assignments and notes to parents on-line kept them organized and led to better home-school communication.

Last year, I learned how to blog, and after that, I created several different blogs to communicate with parents:  Hale Kula Highlights, Hooray for Hale Kula Staff, and Hooray for Our Volunteers.  I recently created a blog to document our $33.2 million construction project.  This year, I am learning to create a web page on weebly, and while it hasn't been as easy as I thought it would be,  I'm proud to be learning something new!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's Official! Our Groundbreaking Ceremony

Monday, July 1 couldn't come quickly enough!  We knew that once the groundbreaking ceremony took place, construction on our new buildings would begin.  But first things first.

We are so appreciative of the work by the Groundbreaking Committee to plan a wonderful event which combined the actual ceremony as well as fellowship and food!  This was the first ceremony we have planned that included so many distinguished visitors.  Most of the other school groundbreakings include the State and City elected officials as well as Department of Education officials. In addition, we invited military leaders as well as our Congressional delegation and officials from the Washington D.C. Office of Economic Adjustment.  I am most appreciative to the military liaison and the US Army Garrison Protocol Officer for making sure we did not offend anyone by not following proper protocol.

Our custodial and office staffs were also instrumental in ensuring that the ceremony would go smoothly.  The custodians stopped their room cleaning to work in the yard.  Even if our school is 54 years old, we take pride in the outward appearance of the grounds.  The custodians trimmed back overgrown plants, weed whacked the whole front area, and the school looked so spiffy!  The office staff did all the "little" things that were necessary to make the whole event go smoothly -- RSVPs, registering the special guests and visitors, preparing the library for the reception, and a myriad of other details.  We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful staff who exemplify our vision, "Working, learning, and succeeding together!"

Even a delay due to a dirt spill which closed down a couple of lanes on the freeway couldn't dampen our spirits!  The groundbreaking ceremony included Governor Abercrombie, US Senator Hirono, BG Johnson, Superintendent Matayoshi, and other military and local leaders as well as our private partners.  Here is a photo just prior to the actual groundbreaking.  (For more photos of the event, click on the hyperlink to the slideshow.)

From left:  Col. Whitney (US Army Garrison-Hawaii), Gary Willis (Office of Economic Adjustment), State Senator Michelle Kidani, State Representative Lauren Cheape, Brigadier General Pete Johnson (25th ID Deputy Commanding Officer), US Senator Mazie Hirono, Governor Neil Abercrombie, State Senator Clayton Hee, Principal Jan Iwase, State Representative Mark Takai, Dexter Kubota (Bowers & Kubota, project managers), Vern Inoshita (Design Partners, Inc., project architects)

Now that the planning/designing/contracting phase is over, the actual construction work begins.  We will be documenting our project from start to finish via a blog titled, "Hale Kula Elementary School - Our $33.2 Million Project!"  While we were researching the history of our school (which was built in 1959), we found very little information.  With the availability of social media and other tech tools, we want to make sure this project is documented and shared with any and all who are interested.  This is a way for anyone connected with our school -- now or in the past -- to follow our progress.  It will be with a touch of nostalgia for those who attended Hale Kula when it was pretty  new back in the 1960's or 1970's.  At the completion of this project, the school will be transformed.  In this 21st century, our students deserve a learning environment which builds on the 4C's -- collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creating.  Add in the 5th C -- choice -- and our students will be successful whether they are here in Hawaii or elsewhere in the United States or the world!