Aiming for the Future

Department: President's Desk

As we launched the school year with the theme, “Every Life is a Story,” I have been inspired by the ways in which this idea has been expressed. It has underscored the remarkable stories behind members of our vibrant school community.

I am especially grateful for the individual stories that have brought us the vision and strong leadership of our school principals, Emily McCarren and Paris Priore-Kim ’76. In their two years at the helm of our Academy and Junior School, their leadership has demonstrated a deep understanding of Punahou’s mission and aims that inspire continuous instructional innovation.

One of their most important contributions is leading faculty through the continued thoughtful design of the K – 12 Learning Commons, which are re-conceptualizing learning spaces to support a bold instructional paradigm.

We are preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist. During their lifetime, our students will be using tools not yet invented – to address challenges not yet fully imagined. Amidst this pace of change and uncertainty, how do schools prepare students not just for college, but for fulfilling careers and meaningful lives?

In response to this question, the Aims of a Punahou Education seek to foster within our students habits of curiosity, resourcefulness, persistence, critical and creative thought, an entrepreneurial mindset, collaboration, compassion, social responsibility and a global perspective. We seek to graduate students who are able to generate alternatives and possibilities, and who can apply and adapt their learning to relevant issues and challenges.

The K – 12 Learning Commons are new and renovated spaces that will support a renewed vision for education. They will reside in two facilities – one currently under construction in the Junior School, and one in the Academy currently being designed and scheduled next for construction. These physical spaces and learning environments will be open, accessible, visible, dynamic, highly networked, flexible and collaborative. They will support teaching that embraces student-generated questions and meaningful projects across disciplines that are connected to relevant issues and authentic audiences.

The Learning Commons will also support Punahou teachers as continuous learners and reflective practitioners, working in collaboration with researchers and professional colleagues from other schools. Punahou’s professional programs for teachers and instructional leaders will be housed within the Learning Commons.

Together with other thought leaders and our educational partners, we are examining and redefining what a high-quality and relevant education looks like – even when it might appear different from what many of us experienced as students.

The underlying ideals of community, connectivity, creativity, critical thought, collaboration, communication and compassion comprise a compelling vision aligned with Punahou’s time-honored educational mission. The challenge for us in schools is to live up to our mission, vision and lofty ideals. The future of our children, our society and the planet depends on it.

Together with Emily and Paris, I welcome your participation in making Punahou’s K – 12 Learning Commons a reality.

James K. Scott ’70

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