The President's Desk
Several trustees and I just returned from Washington, D.C., where on Jan. 20, we witnessed a fellow Punahou alumnus take the oath of office as the 44th president of the United States. That same afternoon, representatives of the Punahou marching band, JROTC unit and cheerleading squad braved the bitter cold to turn in a stellar performance at the inaugural parade, where President Barack Obama '79 greeted them from the reviewing stand with a beaming smile and a "shaka." We are thrilled and proud to celebrate the achievements of this son of Hawai‘i and Punahou.
In an open letter to his two daughters before the inauguration, Obama said he wanted them"...to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate and committed women who will help build that world. It is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential."
These are the very aspirations we want for our students at Punahou. As educators, we ask ourselves two fundamental questions: How is the world changing? And how can we best prepare students for that changing world?
Our response to these questions has shaped the strategic and instructional directions of Punahou School. In addition to excellent core academic programs, recent educational directions include: planning for the proposed grades K - 1 neighborhood; the one-to-one laptop technology program; initiatives in global education; programs in community service and outreach; and Punahou's environmental sustainability initiatives.
These directions are framed by three overarching themes that are vital to preparing Punahou students for a changing world. We believe we are preparing students for ethical and global leadership. We believe that we are preparing students for an information age, and also for a conceptual age. We believe that we are educating students to help create a sustainable future.
Our hope is to foster the conditions for each student to reach his or her promise through a lively and challenging school environment that exhibits the qualities and attributes we seek to instill in our graduates. Therefore, we strive to create a learning community that is joyful, passionate, compassionate, creative, thoughtful, respectful, adaptive, diverse, global, autonomous, embracing of ambiguity and characterized by a broad range of possibilities and choice. If our ultimate task as a school is to produce independent and lifelong learners, then creating a fertile environment that fosters these competencies and qualities is critical to our mission.
Navigating school change amid ambiguity, uncertainty, and complexity requires an adaptive capacity. This is nurtured by thoughtful reflection and professional growth. Especially during these challenging economic times, continuing to invest in the professional growth of faculty keeps Punahou reflective, fluid and adaptive. This is also the kind of teaching and learning environment that attracts and sustains great teachers.
British mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead said: "The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order." Punahou's vibrant educational program has been shaped by the creative tension between tradition, history and continuity on the one hand; and creativity, innovation and change on the other.
The result is a healthy and thoughtful school environment of continuous self-renewal that effectively prepares students for the future and allows them to thrive.
James K. Scott '70