Monday, August 12, 2013

My Vision for Hale Kula

Recently, I took a risk and signed up to participate as a mentor in  the School Administrators Virtual Mentor Program . #SAVMP creator George Couros shared that he expected to get 35-50 requests to participate.  He got 350!   I was assigned three administrators to mentor - from the United States and Canada -  and I look forward to learning with my mentees as we go through this school year together.

Last week, we were asked to blog about "Why I Lead" or "Why I am an Educator."  We shared our blogs on a Google+ SAVMP mentor community, and it is evident that everyone is committed to learning while leading.  What an impressive group of committed school leaders!

This week, George suggested we blog about our vision for our school.  As a school leader, we need to be the keepers of the vision, always bringing decision-making back to the core of our beliefs about our school and where we are headed.

When I was interviewed for the principal position at Hale Kula back in 2003, I was asked about my vision for the school.  I remember sharing that because most of our students are military dependents, my vision was that they would embrace the unique culture of our State while getting an education which would prepare them to be successful wherever they went after leaving our school.  This remains my vision for Hale Kula despite the changes in policies, changes in standards, and changes in personnel at the school, District, and State levels.

I must admit that with the emphasis on statewide assessments and making Adequate Yearly Progress, it was sometimes challenging to focus on our vision.  Part of this lack of focus was my fault, as the principal, in setting a goal every year to make AYP.  I realize that test results are only one measure of success, and I am relieved that our State was given an exemption to No Child Left Behind.  (Now, we will be measured on student growth as opposed to a "magic" score of 300 to be considered proficient.)

My vision is to have every student be successful when they leave our school so I want Hale Kula to be a place where:
  • everyone is included as part of a learning community, and every person is valued for their strengths.
  • everyone strives to be the best they can be, and we support each other to achieve our goals.
  • there is a genuine attitude of caring for each other.
  • learning is meaningful and relevant to the real-world.  Students apply skills and strategies they have learned to complete relevant assignments such as writing a letter to a class in another country, reading to find answers to self-generated questions about a topic they're interested in, or solving relevant math problems such as comparing which store offers the better value on a product.  
  • students and teachers collaborate on projects and assignments and take responsibility for their own learning.
  • students and teachers care about our community and strive to make a difference now and in the future.
Some of these kinds of teaching and learning are already evident at Hale Kula.  For example, as part of their social studies unit on communities, our third graders brainstormed ways to help families who were devastated by Super Storm Sandy.  Our fifth grade Hope Garden is an example of sustainability, and students lead tours for the community during Earth Day activities.  Additionally, our sea urchin project is a great example of how our students are making a difference.

Steve Jobs stated, "If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you."  I am still working on something exciting that I care about, and my vision for Hale Kula continues to pull me every day! 


  1. youre such an inspiration Jan!

  2. I love this! Thanks for being a risk taker and sharing it with us all!!

  3. I love the "pull" I feel at Hale Kula to understand, respect, and share Hawaii and it's amazing culture! Plus the culture all our families bring to the island. Thank you for leading us in that Jan!

  4. Thank you, all, for your kind words. It is the people that make a place special, and that is the main reason why I love working at Hale Kula!

  5. I think it's great that you're leading by example. I appreciate your dedication to education and learning then sharing what you've learned.

    1. Thank you! I continue to love what I'm doing, and I look forward to going to work every day!