Creating a plan to help prepare Molokai youth for the challenges of the 21st Century can only happen if the community comes together.
At Kualapu’u School: A Public Conversion Charter, this process — known as strategic planning — began last night with parents in the school’s cafeteria.
A group of about 20 interested Kualapu’u parents were treated to a dinner of orange chicken, beef broccoli and educational inspiration to help guide the school in creating its second strategic plan.
The school’s original strategic plan — developed in 2006-07, just a year-and-a-half after converting to a charter school — was completed last year. That plan included an ambitious 30-point list of goals or “opportunities” for the school. Most of these goals have been met, including the formation of a pre-school, a Hawaiian Language Immersion Program, an Ike Hawaii program and Extended Learning Time, which was implemented this year.
“Transitional issues dealing with the organization of the school have been met,” said school Principal Lydia Trinidad. “Now we have to ask, ‘what’s next?’”
A Strategic Planning Committee made up of parents, teachers, administrators and consultants are now guiding this process. Once community ideas are gathered and refined, a plan will be written and reviewed over the next two years so that it can be approved for implementation in June of 2013. Implementation of this new plan will be completed by 2018.
With the ultimate goal of preparing students to be 21st Century learners, these big questions about the future of the school were open to discussion. After Trinidad gave a five-minute history of the charter school — now the largest elementary school on Molokai — parents were divided into six groups to brainstorm a vision.
Parents discussed the question, “What do you want for your child at Kualapuu?” The question was answered by considering what to keep, add, tweak or toss from the school.
Lively discussions within the parent groups created long lists of ideas that were shared with the whole group. With too many ideas to list here, parents generally agreed that the school needs to create opportunities to make students more confident, socially capable and prepared for what awaits them in middle school and beyond.
Parents at charter schools actually are a part of creating and implementing the school’s vision. With Hawaii’s one school district led by an appointed school board based on Oahu, local planning is often just a theoretical exercise. At Kualapuu, local control actually has meaning.
These changes were possible because Kualapu’u is the only school on Molokai that can negotiate independently with the teachers union. “That’s huge,” said Trinidad. “That’s maybe the biggest advantage of being a charter.”
Special guests at last night’s meeting included Rose Yamada, a longtime Molokai educator and member of the Ho’okako’o Corporation, which provides management oversight for Kualapuu; Barbara Kalipi, Director of the Queen Lili’uokalani Children’s Center; Kalei Kailihiwa and Nohealani Lenwai, both with the Ho’olako Like program of Kamehameha Schools. Members of the school’s Local Advisory Panel, and Pualani Akaka, a fifth grade teacher and member of the state’s Charter School Review Panel, also contributed.
A graphic design for the Strategic Planning Committee was unveiled with the motto: “Nurturing and thriving in an ever-changing world.”
“Hopefully what we’re doing here is building a whole child for the 21st Century,” said Trinidad.