As the semester draws to a close, I find myself thinking a lot about family. The teachers and administrators at Hawaii Technology Academy often discuss how fortunate we are that families play an integral role in the learning experiences of our students. Unlike other schools in which I have taught or been a school leader, the success of a student at HTA ties directly to the involvement of a parent, guardian, or other dedicated adult who is fully engaged in the student’s learning.
You make this first commitment as an involved parent or guardian when you choose to enroll your child, or children, at HTA. As a school of choice, we are aware that there are many fantastic educational options across our state, and you are choosing our blended learning program because you feel that it will offer an optimal learning environment for your student and your family. Once enrolled, there must be authentic commitment to your students’ learning - helping them with lessons, assisting them in organizing their week and supplies, hiring a third-party tutor to fill the gaps that you are not able to assist with, driving to our various Learning Centers at odd times of the day, corresponding with teachers, and, most importantly, serving as an essential spoke in our wheel of student support that includes teachers, student, administrators, and family. We simply could not offer a blended learning program without dedicated Learning Coaches.
Those less familiar with blended learning often ask me, “How do you really know the students if you only see them two or three times per week?” I always argue that we know our students better because we truly get to know and work with the entire family unit. I feel the same way about our faculty. Since I don’t get to see everyone every day, it becomes even more important that I know what is going on in their lives - kids cutting first teeth, partners receiving promotions, parents and loved ones falling in and out of ill health, etc. The success of our school, and of our students, revolves around our extended school family…across divisions…across Learning Centers…across the state.
We recently held a number of Coffee Talks, attempting to ascertain the value of HTA in the lives of our students and Learning Coaches. The main point that we have heard again and again is that it enables families to enjoy the lifestyle that their family wants to experience here in Hawaii. Unbound by excessive homework, tedious assignments, wasted time at lunch or recess, etc., parents comment that HTA enables their students to learn like they live, with a mix of digital, face-to-face, independent, and mindful components that strengthen rather than detract from the family unit. HTA has always endeavored to provide a 21st century education that prepares students for the world in which they are currently living as well as the future.
I would be remiss if I did not also note that the Coffee Talks have continually yielded praise of our dedicated, innovative, and compassionate teaching faculty. Just like your family, HTA teachers also choose to grow, professionally, through their experiences at our school. They, too, arrive with a beginner’s mindset and a willingness to learn a new approach to teaching and supporting students and parents. Unquestionably one of my favorite parts of HTA is the people that I have the privilege of working with and learning from each day.
As we move into a very well-deserved Winter Break and the New Year, I send sincere thanks to you, our parent Learning Coaches, to our students, and to our exceptionally dedicated faculty. Together you comprise our HTA family - our ‘ohana - and the future of our school.
Wishing you and your ‘ohana a happy and healthy holiday season.
With Warm Aloha,