Report from the NAIS Annual Conference

Emily McCarren

March 6, 2017

A’ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka halau ho’okahi
Not all knowledge is in one school

This week a team from Punahou traveled to Baltimore for the annual conference of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Groups of educators used the days before and after the conference to take advantage of the fact that people have traveled long distances to be in the same place, and it is often a time that people working on projects across schools enjoy the luxury of being in the same place at the same time.

Faculty at Punahou are involved with many exciting collaborations with schools around the country and world. First, it was so exciting to see the official launch of the Mastery Transcript Consortium. The schools involved in this consortium seek to change the relationship between preparation for college and preparation for college admissions by re-imagining the high school transcript. It has been so heartening and affirming to see the reactions of educators and thinkers around the country after months of work getting this collaboration off the ground.

The possibility of a mastery transcript allows us to continue in confidence our ongoing work around assessing critical 21st-century skills. This inquiry at Punahou has been supported by Castilleja School’s Partnership for 21st-century Assessment. This week we had a team from the Academy skype in to the meetings in Baltimore to share our work around assessment of the Aims of a Punahou Education in G-Term. Later in the week, middle school Social Studies teacher Lorelei Saito presented her work on assessment with colleagues from other schools in the partnership as a conference session. Thoughtful video reflections of Punahou middle-school students received delighted applause from the 100+ educators who listened eagerly to practical ideas about how to count what really counts in school.

In order to sustain the kinds of innovations that a changing world requires of schools, there needs to be clear focus and commitment to the ongoing professional learning of faculty. One school that has attended to this with clarity and purpose is St Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland. Paris Priore-Kim and the Junior School Assistant Principals spent time with our colleagues at St. Andrew’s deepening our partnership through their Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning.

Some of our partnerships connect faculty, some connect students, and the Student Global Leadership Institute does both. Also prior to the NAIS conference, Chai Reddy, Director of the Wo International Center, and other faculty visited with alumni of this program at schools up and down the mid-Atlantic region.

At Punahou, we are committed to ensuring that our students have access to an education that continues to be as relevant and meaningful as it has for 175 years of students. We are energized by the increasingly clear, shared understanding around the changes required in education and humbled to be in the position to build on our long tradition of innovation in shared work with colleagues from around the world.

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