In 2009, the Hawaii Community Foundation, in collaboration with the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, launched the Schools of the Future initiative based on the understanding that the skills students will need to be successful in the future will differ from those required in the past.
This initiative is partially inspired by Tony Wagner, co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who writes in the The Global Achievement Gap that “the ‘problem,’ simply stated, is that the future of our economy, the strength of our democracy, and perhaps even the health of the planet’s ecosystems depend on educating future generations in ways very different from how many of us were schooled.”The intent of the Schools of the Future initiative is for selected schools to work towards defining new educational models for “21st century students” by anticipating what skills students will need to be successful in the future and implementing innovative programs to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the coming decades.
Maui Prep has been honored to receive extensive grants from the Hawaii Community Foundation to develop new programs and participate in this initiative. These grants have already had a profound effect on our teaching models. In the first year we conducted thorough research and held extensive community discussions on what it means to be a “21st century student” at Maui Prep; we developed faculty engagement with the initiative and began to build a new common vision for the outcomes we want for our students; we expanded our advanced technology resources; we launched our first integrated Senior Projects; we supported and encouraged student-led project initiatives; and developed new elective courses that involved students in all aspects of planning and implementing the curriculum. Our primary themes in developing a modern approach to teaching were to draw out the real world relevance of the content we were exploring with students, to allow for curricular flexibility that encouraged open ended exploration of students’ curiosity within lesson topics, to ask for greater student collaboration and team work, to break down disciplinary compartmentalization and encourage cross curricular connections and to find new ways of developing student ownership at every level of their learning. As the year went on, teachers witnessed numerous instances of students taking greater initiative in their learning, identifying real-world problems and collaborating with others to solve those problems.
Based on our success in the first year, Maui Prep was deeply gratified to receive a second year grant from HCF to continue this work. Initiatives in the second year include a new Internship Program; starting a new Guest Speaker Series that brings dynamic professionals from innovative sectors onto our campus; expanding project based learning and inquiry based learning at all grade levels; increasing cross-curricular and interdisciplinary collaborations; sending our faculty to top level Professorial development opportunities; purchasing new technology and media resources for our campus; supporting faculty in taking time to renovate their curriculum and develop new projects; and expanding our interdisciplinary courses.
Maui Prep has been honored to participate in this innovative program and we are actively committed to developing new educational models that prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the coming decades.