Au and Mazzullo join Punahou’s efforts to create a K – 12 Learning Commons, which aims to foster meaningful, personalized learning experiences, diminishing boundaries between school and the real world.
For the 2017 – 2018 school year, Darin Au and Vanessa Manuel-Mazzullo are Learning Commons Catalysts. Newly appointed Innovation Catalyst, Wendi Kamiya, joins Au and Mazzullo in Punahou’s efforts to create a K – 12 Learning Commons, which aims to foster meaningful, personalized learning experiences for both students and teachers, diminishing boundaries between school and the real world.
Vanessa Manuel-Mazzullo describes her role as a live LinkedIn. Students and faculty approach her with ideas and she connects them with the resources to make those ideas possible. The Learning Commons Catalysts are working to “move the traditional library model to a Learning Commons concept,” explains Darin Au. “To do this, we try to create a space where interdisciplinary learning can take place through collaboration between faculty and students.”
Although Manuel-Mazzullo, a middle school elective faculty member, and Au, Academy music faculty member, come from different areas of campus, performance is something they are both passionate about. Under their management, Unfinished Theatre in the Morita-Sony Center is flourishing as an open space for performances by guest artists as well as students, mock town hall meetings and faculty presentations, to name a few. “Nearly all of our events are open to the campus community and this gives students an authentic audience,” said Au.
In addition to performance-based learning, Au and Manuel-Mazzullo cater to other student interests. Manuel-Mazzullo assisted with the ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia exhibit in Bishop Learning Commons and has mentored students in entering video contests (that they’ve subsequently won). Au has helped launch student leadership initiatives that empower students to manage spaces like the Café and create learning opportunities like the Marshmallow Fest and the Art and Science of Oceans in the Learning Commons in Cooke Library.
Both catalysts work to enable students to have the time and place for them to focus on their passions. “The Learning Commons is beyond the space of these walls,” says Au. “It’s the entire community making meaningful connections with each other. That’s when the real work and collaboration happen.”